Dealing with fear of needles at the dentist’s is a common problem, but for some it can make them procrastinate treatments and put at risk their dental health. Thankfully, a caring, competent dentist like Dr. Gleave and some comforting knowledge about the many options available today can just about assuage any fear.
Most injections given now are first given with a topical anesthetic which numbs the area before the dentist injection, eliminating the pain. Accompanied by a carefully slow injection, many people feel very little to no pain. Once the local anesthetic is applied and after waiting the appropriate amount of time, very little pain can be felt, usually only the occasional awareness of pressure.
However painless this process is, there are many Americans—40 million according to one survey—who may avoid going to the dentist because they fear needle pain. For those who have serious fears, there are other options. One of the most attractive options is using sedatives to achieve a relaxed state before any needles are administered. Patients will feel relaxed and comfortable throughout the entire procedure and are able to cooperate with the doctor’s instruction. Often patients only need to take a pill an hour before coming into the dentist which calms their fears enough to have no problems with their fears.
Nitrous oxide, or “laughing gas,” is also a good option to both kill pain and also to prevent anxiety. After a dose of the gas, most people are calm enough for the dentist to inject. As a last resort, IV sedation is extremely effective for those who wish to be heavily sedated, often with no memory of the entire procedure.
Despite all of these methods, some people simply can’t get over the idea of an injection. A proven technique to overcome this phobia which can be performed by a psychologist or a dentist is called systematic desensitization. In this process, essentially the injection procedure is slowly pantomimed in a slow, controlled, comfortable manner until the patient has become less fearful of needles. Caring dentists are happy to move very slowly to ensure you comfort and happiness with the entire procedure.
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