Are you nervous about going to the dentist? Many patients are, so don’t feel as though you’re alone. Most of the time, dental-related fears center around pain. If you have had a bad dental experience in the past, you might be worried that history will repeat itself. Or you might just flinch every time you hear the drill or the clinking of instruments because you’re anticipating pain or discomfort. The good news is that pain-free dentistry is considered the norm, and most dentists do all they can to ensure that their patients are comfortable in the chair. Read on to find out about the ways that pain can be managed and eliminated while you’re in the dentist’s office.
Relaxation techniques. If you are very anxious, you’re likely to spend your whole visit tensed up, waiting for pain to occur. Talk to your dentist if this is the case. He or she might recommend meditation, soothing music or even a medication to help you relax.
Anesthetic gel. Are you afraid of the pinch of the needle? Your dental assistant or dentist can apply an anesthetic gel to your gums for a few minutes before you receive an injection.
Local anesthetic. Commonly called novacaine, local anesthetic is injected into the gums and ligament space around the tooth. When you have a lower tooth worked on, you might receive a mandibular block, which makes your whole lower jaw on that side numb. For an upper tooth, you might feel numb into your eye or nose. This is completely normal and it will wear off a few hours after your treatment is complete.
Nitrous oxide. Also called “laughing gas,” this is what you breathe in through a rubber mask before and during your procedure. It takes the edge off of any discomfort and relaxes you so that you are less likely to feel pain. In many cases, nitrous oxide is used in conjunction with local anesthetic.
Sedation dentistry. If you are very afraid or you need extensive work done, sedation dentistry might be an option. You will be sedated and won’t feel or remember anything. While this isn’t recommended for most patients, those with a dental phobia can benefit from having their dental work completed without having to go through the trauma of being awake for it.
After your dental procedure, you will likely have no pain. In some cases, you might experience some sensitivity, discomfort to biting or other mild sensations. An over-the-counter pain reliever will help, if you can take one safely. If you ever have unanticipated pain following a dental procedure, be sure to call the office right away; you might require an antibiotic if you have an infection or to have a filling filed down if you are biting on it too hard.
You shouldn’t dread discomfort in the chair, because pain-free dentistry is typical and what should be expected. Talk to your dentist if you have any questions or concerns.