Many people get anxious at the thought of seeing the dentist. For some, it might be the effect of media portrayals like the sadistic dentist in Marathon Man (or maybe, on a much lighter note, this guy). Others may have had bad experiences when they were young, creating a lingering fear. More than a few hesitate because they’re afraid they’ll learn they have dental problems that might be expensive to fix.

But that last case can actually create a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. Regular exams and cleanings are essential for maintaining a healthy mouth. Put them off and you actually increase the likelihood that you wind up with advanced decay, gum disease, or other problems. Wait until a problem tooth is painful, and you could wind up losing that tooth. A toothache means that infection has reached the living pulp of the tooth. At that point, you’re basically left with two options: root canal or extraction and tooth replacement, whether with an implant or partial.

In short, dental problems don’t get better on their own. Most of the time, they just become more difficult – and expensive – to solve.

So while the current economic situation may make it more tempting than ever to put off that trip to the dentist, the wiser approach is to keep up with your regular hygiene appointments to make it less likely that more expensive care will be needed later.

We don’t want fear to be a deterrent to any of our patients undergoing any type of procedure. That’s why we have a number of options to help take the edge off so you can be relaxed throughout your visit to either of our offices (San Diego and Chula Vista).

Because so many of our patients prefer drug-free methods of relaxation, one of our most popular options is a device called Alpha-Stim. This is an FDA-cleared electrotherapy device that creates a calm euphoria to ease anxiety, depression, insomnia, and pain. It does this by naturally increasing the body’s production of serotonin, endorphins, and alpha brainwaves to reduce stress and pain.

For those who need deeper relaxation, we also offer oral conscious sedation. If you opt for this, you’ll be given a prescription for a small dose of a sedative such as valium, which you then take shortly before your visit. In the chair, you’ll feel mellow and less aware of time passing – yet alert enough to talk with us and understand what’s going on. All the while, we monitor your sedation carefully to ensure safety. However, unlike with AlphaStim and aromatherapy, you WILL need someone to drive you to and from your appointment.

There are other things you can do yourself to help calm any nervousness you feel about being in the dental chair. These include

  • Listening to your favorite music or podcasts through earbuds or headphones while in the dental chair.
  • Practicing diaphragmatic (belly) breathing through your visit. (Here’s how.)
  • Taking some calming herbs before your appointment, such as valerian root. Calming teas such as holy basil or chamomile can be a good alternative, too. (Be sure to let us know, though, that you’ve done this!)
  • Bring an eye pillow scented with lavender or other calming essential oil to wear while we provide your treatment.
  • Avoid caffeine before your visit.

Above all, talk with us. Let us know your concerns so we can do all we can to make each visit as comfortable as possible for you. Dental care shouldn’t be scary.