Dental anxiety and the more severe dental phobia affect many Burlington children.
Today’s post answers some questions asked about this important topic.
What are the long-term consequences of dental anxiety and dental phobia?
The most detrimental consequence is when a patient delays dental care until the pain becomes excruciating. At this point, the trouble is usually extremely advanced and requires extensive treatment.
Furthermore, there are usually many other dental troubles in varying stages of progression. Many oral conditions eventually cause a malfunction in other vital systems risking general health and well-being.
In addition to the emotional distress about dental treatment, the son or daughter who avoids dental care can become emotionally distressed about their unhealthy smile.
If my child has dental phobia or anxiety, what should I do to guard their oral health?
Schedule an appointment with me, Dentist Eric Soper of Pediatric Dental Center in Burlington. There are several individual fears associated with dental anxiety. Fear of pain, fear of the unknown, fear of loss of control, and extreme embarrassment because of poor dental health are the most frequent concerns. During our consultation, we will address each of your child’s individual fears.
I have helped many pediatric patients manage their anxiety during dental exams and treatment.
First off, we take things slowly. I explain exactly what is going to happen before each procedure. I never, ever give stern lectures on proper oral care—though I do give friendly instruction if requested.
If local anesthetic is required, I employ my finely-honed procedures which cause zero to minimal discomfort. We agree upon a nonverbal signal, such as raising a hand, to cue me to remove my instrument from the child’s mouth. Then he/she can take a break, breathe deeply, regain composure, and ask questions.
These methods go a long way to alleviate anxious dental patients. At the very least, they help the child get through the treatment that is needed immediately. With each subsequent visit, the patient is comforted by increased familiarity, greater confidence, and a strengthened relationship with me and my friendly team.
What if my child needs more help to get through treatment?
In the Burlington dental community, the terms “sleep dentistry” and “oral conscious sedation” are both used, however, they are not exactly the same thing. There are three main types of sedation used in dentistry.
Level 1: Nitrous Oxide
Nitrous oxide, or, informally, “laughing gas” is safe and effective. Nitrous oxide has been used in pediatric dental offices for decades because in many ways it is the ideal mild sedative. It goes to work at the first inhalation, relaxes the child during the treatment without rendering them completely unconscious, and wears off quickly after the mask is removed. And no needles are necessary—a key feature for the needle-phobic youngster.
Level 2: Oral Conscious Sedation
Oral sedatives don’t start working as rapidly as nitrous oxide, but they help most patients achieve a deeper level of relaxation. These medications, however, do not usually lead to complete unconsciousness. Thus, oral sedatives and nitrous oxide are used in “conscious” sedation. Two common sedatives used by Burlington dentists to calm patient’s fears are diazepam and triazolam.
Level 3: IV Sedation
IV sedation produces actual “sleep dentistry.” Most patients are completely oblivious to the dental procedures they are receiving. IV sedation is helpful for root canals, wisdom teeth extractions, and oral surgery.
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