Dealing with Anxiety

Are you anxious when you visit the dentist?

What is Anxiety?

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Dental anxiety is common and affects people of all ages. There are different levels of anxiety, ranging from slight nervousness to severe phobia.

You may be anxious about specific aspects of dental treatment, or being in close contact with someone you don't know very well. You may have had unpleasant experiences at the dentist as a child and are frightened that these will be repeated.

If you're tense or anxious about visiting the dentist, please tell us. Sharing your concerns will allow us to adapt the treatment to your needs and help you overcome your anxiety or fear of dental treatment.

Try to choose a time for your visit when you're less likely to be rushed or under pressure. Care For Smiles offers a range of music and DVDs to listen, watch and relax. You may bring a portable audio player and headset so you can relax to your favourite music. You may also find it helps to have a friend or family member with you.

It's important that during the treatment that you don't feel pushed further than you can cope with. You may feel more in control if you have a signal (raising your hand, for example) that lets the dentist know when to stop.

Sedation Options

You may find treatment easier if you have some form of sedation to relieve anxiety and to help you relax. Care For Smiles offers Oral Sedation and Nitrous Oxide sedation to help calm anxious patients, including children. Higher levels of sedation (including general anaesthesia) requires referral to a specialist at much higher cost.

Oral sedation

Your dentist may prescribe medication to help reduce your anxiety. The medication is usually taken 30 minutes to an hour before your appointment and must be taken exactly as directed by your dentist.

Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas) sedation

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Nitrous oxide is a gas, commonly known as 'happy gas' or 'laughing gas'. Nitrous oxide sedation may help make you more comfortable during certain procedures. You breathe the gas in through a mask placed over your nose. Within a few short minutes you should start to feel the relaxing effects. You'll be able to understand what the dentist is saying throughout the treatment, but the sedation should reduce your anxiety. When your treatment is finished, the sedation will wear off after a few deep breaths. You may be asked to stay in the clinic for up to 30 minutes for the effects of the sedation to wear off fully. The dentist may ask you to bring a friend or family member to accompany you home.

The dentists at Care For Smiles are trained in the use of nitrous oxide sedation. Please discuss with us if nitrous oxide sedation would be an option for you. The cost for use of nitrous oxide sedation is $70.00 per 30 minute block.

The Melbourne Royal Childrens Hospital (RCH) has developed a fact sheet about Nitrous Oxide Sedation for Dental Procedures which you may find useful.

Link | | Kids Health Info
Fact Sheet : Sedation (Nitrous Oxide) for Dental Procedures