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Controlling Dental Pain

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Mind/Body Techniques to Control Anxiety or Pain

  • Distraction strategies. One way to reduce stress and anxiety is to distract yourself with something pleasant. Bring an iPod or other personal listening device with your favorite music. Some dentists have these in their offices that can be borrowed, and others are beginning to offer virtual-reality goggles, which provide images and sounds to take your mind off of the work your dentist is performing in your mouth.
  • Relaxation techniques. Studies have shown that practicing relaxation techniques helps reduce pain and anxiety levels in patients. There are many types of relaxation strategies. Some of the more common include:
  1. Guided imagery. This is the technique of imaging a pleasant experience or a particularly soothing environment. By concentrating on creating as much detail as possible, your mind becomes absorbed in this task rather than focusing on what the dentist is doing.
  2. Deep breathing. This technique involves breathing deeply and slowly, which floods the body with oxygen and other chemicals that work on the central nervous system and improve your comfort.
  3. Progressive relaxation. Using this technique, you consciously concentrate on relaxing every muscle in your body beginning at your toes and working all the way up to your head. Reducing muscular tension helps reduce pain.
  4. Biofeedback. This technique involves learning how to relax and better cope with pain and stress by altering your behavior, thoughts, and feelings. Specialists who provide biofeedback training range from psychiatrists and psychologists to dentists, internists, nurses, and physical therapists.
  • Hypnosis. Hypnosis, whether self-induced or aided by a dentist or therapist, is another way to produce a relaxed state.
  • Acupuncture . This technique involves the placement of very thin needles into certain locations on the body. The body responds by releasing numerous chemicals that have an analgesic (pain-killing) effect on the body. A related technique, acupressure, uses pressure applied to certain locations instead of needles.
  • Support Groups. Most communities have support groups that offer practical tips and coping skills in addition to emotional support for those who suffer from anxiety or phobias. Ask your dentist if he or she can assist in finding a support group in your area.
  • Mental health therapy. Working with mental health professionals, such as psychologists and psychiatrists, is another worthwhile option to consider for those with severe anxiety and phobias. The types of therapies that might be tried in this setting include:
  1. Systematic desensitization. With this technique, patients are gradually exposed to the things they are afraid of -- for instance, in this case, the dental office and dental instruments.
  2. Cognitive behavior therapy. This approach teaches patients how to calm their mind and body and change negative or harmful thinking patterns so that they can feel better, think more clearly, make better decisions and overcome fears.
  3. Psychotherapy. This is a process by which patients increase their personal awareness and come to an understanding of and make peace with the difficult events or fears from their past.
  • Dentophobia clinics. These are clinics, staffed by therapists, who specialize in helping those with severe anxiety. Ask your dentist or mental health provider about clinics in your area.

 

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Elverne M Tonn, DDS on June 03, 2012
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Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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