Personalized Care

Patients With Dental Anxiety

There are many reasons why people are uncomfortable or anxious about the dental setting. A combination of past experiences, anxiety triggers, and what we hear from our friends and family all color the experience of being at the dentist. Some particular sources of anxiety include:

  • Local anesthesia
  • Feeling pain during procedures
  • The invasiveness of hands or instruments in the mouth
  • Vulnerability at being reclined and sometimes unable to speak
  • Cost of procedures (particularly if the costs are unexpected or higher than estimated)
  • Judgment from a dentist or hygienist for having dental problems
  • History of trauma or PTSD that can be triggered in medical environments
  • Noise, vibration, and sensory input
  • Feeling embarrassed or shamed that there are dental issues

It makes sense that the dental office can be an intense setting. Thankfully, simply being aware of the existence and variety of dental anxiety triggers can help your dental provider make your appointment as comfortable as possible. It's helpful for a patient to be self-aware of what particular aspects they are feeling worried about, and clear communication with their dental team is the best way to move forward and set up an ideal environment.

No Judgment

At Smiles By Rosie Family Dentistry, we have several approaches to reducing anxiety. Firstly, is completely okay if you have cavities, gum disease, missing teeth, no teeth, or anything else that can happen in the mouth. It's fine if you haven't been to the dentist in 20 years or if it was really hard to just set up your first appointment. We get it, and you will never be shamed for any of this. Remember: We are here just for teeth! We've seen every single type of dental issue there is, and we can either fix it or refer you to someone who can. So whatever is going on with your teeth and mouth - we've got it!

Risk Factors

There's a lot more to dental disease than simply oral hygiene and sugar. If there are risk factors we can guide you in reducing, we'll offer some straightforward and informative tips. (For instance, did you know that Goldfish crackers are more likely to cause cavities than ice cream? Who knew?) If there are parts of your mouth that are harder to clean, we can help with recommendations on angles to hold your toothbrush or certain cleaning devices (like proxabrushes or a WaterPik) that can make the job easier. But there are also risk factors for dental disease that aren't under your control: the pH of your saliva, dry mouth, when you got fluoride as a child, your tooth position, etc. It's possible to educate and help get you to a healthier place without shaming you for having changes in the first place. It's our role to help treat any decay or gum disease and help maintain you on a good course of oral heath.

Making A Plan

Thinking about all the issues that can happen and the number of teeth in the mouth mean that before your examination, it can feel like there are a lot of problems to expect. However, we've noted that all patients leave feeling relieved at the end of their appointment, even if it means we've scheduled some work to do. Not knowing is far more uncomfortable than having a plan. For each dental appointment, you'll know exactly what we'll do, what to expect, and how much it will cost. Dr. Rosie is also very happy to give you a tour of your dental xrays and explain in great detail why certain treatment is recommended, as well as your alternatives and the risks and benefits of each.

Comfortable Appointments

To help reduce anxiety triggers, please let us know how to help you be more comfortable. If you dislike getting numbed up, we can use extra numbing gel, provide some distractions, and be sure to be extra gentle. We can either talk throughout your visit to explain what's happening or not say much and let you relax. If you don't like the sound of the drill, you can wear earbuds and listen to the podcast of your choice. For almost every procedure, we use a special kind of device called the Isolite, which is a bite block, suction, and cheek and tongue retractor all in one! Once you get the hang of it, the Isolite helps you relax your jaw and "zone out" during your treatment, not worrying about keeping your tongue out of the way or feeling like there's a lot of water in your mouth.

For people with sensory input sensitivity, we have sunglasses, choice of music (or no music), dim lights, and you can wear the lead apron for the whole procedure if you wish. If you are assisting another patient, please let us know what helps them feel more comfortable.

We also offer heated neck pillows, your choice of music on Pandora, Spotify, or YouTube, and have essential oils to place on your bib for a bit of aromatherapy. We want you to feel as relaxed and comfortable as possible!