Dental anxiety is not funny

Integrative Dentistry: Dental anxiety isn’t funny

The other day I treated a dental patient who also had a really good sense of humor. We laughed the entire visit, and she did great! Actually, she did better than a lot of patients because she was so motivated to keep her teeth. The catch was that she was an anxious patient, and she’d had to take Valium to go through with her treatment.

With the proper support and a good attitude, dentistry always goes better. An estimated 30% to 50% of American adults avoid the dentist because of dental anxiety or fear of pain.

Dental fear and anxiety can decrease with good experiences based on trust and good care. Something as simple as having an iPod with your favorite music, a pleasant environment and having a supportive, friendly staff to talk to can help.

If you are highly anxious, you may need some form of sedation. There are different levels of sedation, but most people can significantly benefit from a simple low dosage of a relaxant like Xanax 0.5 mg. Even patients with a strong focus on natural dental care sometimes find a mild sedative in their best interest. Remember that using some form of chemical sedation involves having a driver for your visits.

In my office, we use some simple sprays from the California Flower Essence Society, combinations of essential oils and flower essences that assist patients in having a more relaxed and positive experience. They work! Many of our patients ask for them at all their visits.

If you or someone you know has been avoiding the dentist because of anxiety, encourage them to seek options to facilitate their care.

Dr. Carey O’Rielly, DDS, is a holistic dentist practicing at Integrative Dentistry in Encinitas. To learn more, visit or call 760-632-1304. Read more “Integrative Dentistry” columns. 

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