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Question: “I have several teeth that are causing pain, but it has been more than fifteen years since I’ve seen a dentist due to my anxiety. What can you do for me?”

Answer: Unfortunately, this problem is all too common. Dental anxiety is very real, and it affects millions of Americans. It has been estimated that almost half of adults don’t even see a dentist regularly. Many of these people have let fear keep them from maintaining good oral health.

Fortunately, dental techniques have taken this fear into account, and many patients feel that it is easier and more comfortable than ever to have dental work completed. Relaxation amenities like nitrous oxide (laughing gas), movies, headphones, massage pads, and aromatherapy are often enough to “take the edge off.” Having a dental team that is good at listening to your concerns and prior dental history helps alleviate anxiety, as well.

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For patients who need extensive dental treatment, oral conscious sedation is often an excellent option. My team routinely sees patients with severe dental phobia, and we have had great success in helping them improve their oral health utilizing this approach. Some of these patients have postponed dental care for many years, even though they have been in pain.

For patients with severe anxiety who are in good health, oral conscious sedation is as simple as taking a small, safe pill that allows them to relax comfortably throughout their appointment. Well-trained clinical team members monitor the patient closely to make sure that they are comfortable throughout the appointment.

Often years of dental neglect are corrected in just one very relaxed, comfortable visit. Many of these fearful patients begin smiling with confidence and chewing without pain for the first time in years after their sedation appointment. These benefits can have positive, life-changing consequences for people who have postponed enhancing their smile or improving their oral health due to fear.

Most sedation patients feel no discomfort and have little or no memory of their dental visit. It would be wise for you to seek care as soon as possible from an office that is well-trained to minimize your dental anxiety. Oral conscious sedation might be exactly what you need to overcome your fear and get healthy again.

Dr. Jim Arnold is a practicing dentist in Valparaiso and Chesterton. Additionally, he serves on the Advisory Board for the Academy of Comprehensive Esthetics and is involved with many other local, state, national, and international dental organizations. Questions for Dr. Arnold can be emailed to drarnold@smilesbyarnold.com or sent to 1830 South 11th St., Chesterton, IN, 46304. More information on this and a variety of other dental topics can be found at www.SmilesByArnold.com.

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