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Combat the FEAR of the Dental Needle

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Are you suffering from phobia of dentist’s needle; do you miss appointments because you’re terrified they might need to give you a shot?

You’re not alone!

Complicating dental treatment by missing appointments, and ending up needing more time consuming and expensive dental treatment is obviously not a good idea.

The level of fear varies from person to person, and some people are afraid of dental injections in particular, while others are phobic about any sort of needle. Some people are phobic to the point of avoiding injections at all costs (including their life). Others are almost as afraid of the numb sensation as of the injection itself.

What can you do about fear of needles?

Find the compassionate dentist

Find a dentist who truly believes in patient comfort. These dentists – consciously or unconsciously – will have developed techniques that make dental injections as comfortable as possible – techniques like using a topical anaesthetic, making the tissue taut and injecting gently, applying pressure or vibration (using a finger or a q-tip, or a snazzy new device called the DentalVibe).

The best way of finding a dentist who gives comfortable injections is by asking other people for recommendations. It’s a good idea to ask your potential dentist outright if s/he can give painless injections, and if they use numbing gel.

Another method for controlling dental fears that is very popular is sedation dentistry.

Topical anaesthetic comes in lots of flavours, though the plain flavour (which is most commonly used) works just as well! Numbing gel can be a real eye-opener if your fear is the initial going in of the needle – but it has to be left on for long enough to take effect, especially for lower back and upper front teeth.

The Wand machine

The Wand virtually guarantees painless injections, because the speed of injection is controlled by a computer. And the few injections which could potentially be uncomfortable, even in skilled hands, are possible to do quite comfortably using the Wand.

In addition, it looks nothing like a syringe! So if the sight of a needle or a syringe is a major turn-off for you, this may be your ticket…

Focusing on the beneficial aspects of the injection.

By making a conscious effort to remind yourself that the injection itself is beneficial, the whole process should be much more manageable.

Some people find it easier to receive the local if they keep their eyes closed.

Most dentists will chat to you while administering the local in order to distract you and keep the syringe out of sight.

Psychological methods

“Mind tricks” like deep breathing, visualization and guided imagery, positive affirmations, and reward systems also work to alleviate fear in some people. If you suffer with a general, intense phobia of injections, working with a qualified psychologist tends to be the method of choice.

General Anaesthesia

This is a very last resort, if everything else has failed, because every GA involves a certain amount of risk. One big disadvantage of GA is that, while it can be useful for things like extractions, it cannot usually be used for things like fillings or root canals and other restorative work due to technical issues.

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