I am just going to be blunt. I have never had a pleasant dental experience. Here is the pattern. I go in. I get tortured and even have blood all over my dental bib. Not even numbing medication helps. I am too disgusted to go back again for a while and put it off. Then, I start feeling guilty for missing appointments and go in, this time to a different dentist. I get tortured… ad nauseum.

Here is my question. I need a bunch of work but don’t want to go to more appointments than is necessary. How much work can I get in during just one appointment? I figure I can just bring a flask of whiskey with me or something to steady my nerves and just grin and bear it.

Louis

Dear Louis,

Gilbert dental anxiety
Dental work can be intimidating…but there is a solution.

I’m sorry you have spent a lifetime having this trouble with dentists. Believe it or not, most dentists went into their field because they wanted to help people, not because they enjoy causing pain. My guess is there is a three-fold problem that is causing this cycle. We can go into that in a moment. First, I want you to know that there is a solution, so as I am going through this cycle, know there is hope.

First, early trauma. There is likely some point in your childhood where you had a frightening or painful dental appointment.

Second, anxiety. That early trauma set up a pattern of dental anxiety. This is a big deal because when a patient is anxious, it is actually harder for the numbing medication to work. The higher the anxiety, the faster the medication burns off.

Third, avoidance. The trauma and anxiety you’ve experienced keep you away from the dentist, which in turn allows for more buildup and problems with your teeth. This can lead to gum disease, which is painful to deal with and will bleed during your appointments, as well as large deposits that are harder to remove.

The solution is to get you relaxed enough for the numbing medication to effectively do its job. My recommendation, because of the severity of the experiences you’ve had, is to look for a dentist who offers dental sedation. You can do an internet search for one of the following terms to locate them:

In your case, I am going to recommend you find someone who specifically uses oral conscious sedation (OCS). Oral Conscious Sedation is administered by a pill. Don’t let that fool you, though. This pill is so strong that you will need someone to drive you to and from your appointment, as well as, stay with you for a few hours while you get lucid and steady on your feet again. Because you are so comfortable and relaxed, you are most likely to sleep through your entire appointment. This works in your favor when you need a lot of work done because it allows you to get more work done in each appointment than you would normally be able to. This will help you catch up faster with oral health care.

I think you’ll find this simple step will completely change your experience with dentists.
This blog is brought to you by Gilbert, AZ Dentist Dr. Matt Roper.