I’m Nervous About My Dental Appointment

Nearly three-quarters of US adults experience anxiety about going to the dentist. And 3-16% of that group has an aversion so strong it’s called a phobia, a fear response that can’t be voluntarily controlled.

At the dental office of Dr. Kiran Rapal in Saratoga, California, we understand that the sound of the drill or the feeling of a needle can be unsettling, but Dr. Rapal has 20+ years of experience treating anxious patients who are nervous about undergoing even routine cleanings. Here’s what she wants you to know about dental anxiety and how to solve it.

The problem of dental anxiety

Dental anxiety is a very real thing. Many people develop anxiety after they’ve had a bad experience at a dental appointment, or if they know someone who did. And people who have an underlying mental health condition, such as an anxiety disorder, depression, or PTSD, can experience increased fear even without such an incident.

Dental anxiety can develop about a dental procedure in particular or the dental setting in general. It’s more than just an annoyance or an inconvenience — it can harm your long-term oral health by preventing you from making dental visits except in cases of an emergency, and sometimes not even then.

The most common reasons for avoiding the dentist’s office are:

Tackling dental anxiety

Dr. Rapal tries to mitigate anxiety at every opportunity. The most important thing you can do if you have dental anxiety is to schedule a consultation session with Dr. Rapal, specifically to discuss your fears. Once she understands where you’re coming from, she works closely with you to ease your fears before she does any dental work, so you know what to expect. Being forewarned helps alleviate the fear of the unknown.

Dr. Rapal says “my goal is to change people’s perspective about visiting the dentist. My team and I have created a soothing and nurturing place for all patients. We want to be your partner in your journey towards a healthy and beautiful smile.” 

During your initial visit, Dr. Rapal does a thorough evaluation of the dental work that is needed. During this visit you and Dr. Rapal also decide the type of sedation needed. She works with a team of anesthesiologists while she performs all the dental work. When you wake up, your treatment is complete and you have no traumatic memory of any drill sounds or painful injections.

You can talk about your fears at the start of your appointment to ensure both you and the dentist are on the same page about what’s “calm” and “safe.” While she checks your mouth for cavities, gum disease, and other oral health issues that may need immediate attention, Dr. Rapal discusses the specifics of the treatment before performing any work. 

Dr. Rapal also offers sedation dentistry, an oral anti-anxiety pill that helps to calm you down enough to get through your appointment.

If you’re nervous about any aspect of your dental appointment or have held off teeth cleaning, don’t be afraid to let us know. To learn more, and to schedule a consultation, call us at 408-864-7010, or book an appointment online. We can help.

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