De-stressing With Relaxation Dentistry

Posted on August 26th, 2021 at 11:19 AM
De-stressing With Relaxation Dentistry

Do you get stressed and anxious when you have a dental visit coming up? If you do, you’re not alone. About 1 in 5 patients experience at least some mild stress and anxiety related to going to the dentist. Some people get it so bad that it’s classified as a phobia: dentophobia.

Luckily, dental anxiety can be managed with something called relaxation dentistry. We know what you might be thinking: the dentist’s office is one of the last places you associate with going to relax. And that’s exactly why dental relaxation techniques are so important!

Whether you get mildly stressed out before a dental visit, or you have trouble even getting yourself to go see your dentist because of how anxious it makes you feel, relaxation dentistry can help make your next routine checkup or necessary dental procedure a breeze.

What is relaxation dentistry?

Relaxation dentistry combines different types of dental sedation with special oral relaxation techniques to make trips to the dentist more comfortable and less stressful for patients.

Before we go into more detail on what relaxation dentistry is, it’s important to note how it’s different from sleep dentistry

Relaxation dentistry vs. sleep dentistry

Sleep dentistry refers to dental procedures that are performed while the patient is completely asleep, under the effects of dental general anesthesia. During sleep dentistry procedures, patients are not conscious at all and only regain consciousness when the effects of the general anesthesia completely wear off.

On the other hand, the types of dental sedation used in relaxation dentistry procedures can leave patients in varying states of consciousness. The goal is to relax the patient and induce feelings of drowsiness and euphoria to treat symptoms of dental anxiety, without the need to put them under.

So, why use sedation dentistry over sleep dentistry, you ask? Well, for most routine dental procedures, it’s not necessary to put the patient all the way to sleep. For patients with dental anxiety, sedation offers quick-acting relief from stress and anxiety that wears off quickly, so you don’t have to stay and sleep off any anesthesia.

Why use dental sedation?

For example, a common type of sedation used to relax patients for dental procedures is nitrous oxide, or “laughing gas.” When you inhale the gas, it immediately blocks neurotransmitters that cause anxiety, dulls your pain receptors, and stimulates dopamine production (which makes you feel happy).

A couple of key benefits of using a form of sedation like nitrous oxide on dental patients are that it can be easily adjusted during the dental procedure to keep patients relaxed and that it wears off quickly so that patients can get out of the dentist’s office quickly.

There are also other forms of sedation used in relaxation dentistry including oral sedation (pills) and IV sedation. These can have mild to moderate sedative effects, depending on the dose and type of medication administered.

Your dentist can talk to you about your dental anxiety and help you choose the best form of dental sedation to treat your symptoms and make your trips to the dentist more relaxing and less stressful.

How to feel more relaxed before your dental visit

Besides sedation, there are lots of ways you can help yourself relax before your next dental visit. There are also in-office dental relaxation techniques that dentists use to help their patients relax. Let’s take a look at some of the things you can try to reduce your dental anxiety.

Tips to relax before a dental appointment

  • Schedule an early appointment so you don’t think about it all day
  • Try to get to your appointment right on time to avoid waiting too long
  • Listen to/watch something funny with headphones on while waiting
  • Listen to music that relaxes you
  • Try some deep breathing techniques

Ways the dentist can help you relax in the office

  • Play soothing music
  • Talk to you and explain everything they are doing
  • Allow you to watch TV
  • Make sure the office smells nice
  • Establish a way for you to signal that you want them to stop

Elements of a relaxing dental office environment

We’ve already touched on some ways dentists can help patients with dental anxiety relax in their offices, but why exactly do those techniques work? Well, environmental and sensory triggers (i.e. sights, sounds, and smells) play a big role in triggering dental anxiety and phobias.

Dentists can help offset this by setting up their offices in certain ways. For instance, TVs and soothing music can help distract patients from the sounds of dental tools in the background. And, nice aromatherapeutic scents like lavender can make the office feel less sterile and more relaxing.

Realizing the role that environmental and sensory triggers play in dental anxiety, dentists have even gone so far as to create something called “dental spas.” These are special rooms where patients can go before or after a dental visit to receive relaxing services and treatments that you might otherwise find at a traditional day spa.

Examples of dental spa services and amenities

  • Massage chairs
  • Paraffin wax hand treatments
  • Aromatherapy
  • Complimentary beverages and snacks
  • Music and entertainment

Relax in the dental spa room at Sleep Dentistry

Here at Dr. Kevin Mahoney’s offices, we are committed to making every visit as comfortable and relaxing for our patients as possible. 

That’s why we offer our very own dental spa room where patients with dental anxiety can go to relax and treat themselves to a little pampering before or after a dental visit.

We provide 20-minute-long spa sessions that can include a massage chair and paraffin wax treatment. We even offer complimentary jewelry cleaning services during any spa session!

These sessions are designed to slow your breathing and heart rates, reduce stress hormones in your bloodstream, and increase your endorphins. 

If you’re interested in scheduling a dental spa session before or after your next visit to Sleep Dentistry, contact us today!