I am not the best dental patient. I will admit that upfront. I have avoided the dentist for a while now. However, I developed a massive toothache and reluctantly schlepped myself to the dental office. After nine shots. NINE. He still couldn’t get me numb. I am living off of strong pain killers right now because he was not able to complete my treatment. He apologized and didn’t charge me for the appointment, but I am still in agony. What can I do to get this treated?
I am familiar with this type of situation and have a solution for you. One of the things you mentioned is that you are not the best dental patient and avoid going. This is almost always a result of some traumatic experience with the dentist that led to you developing dental anxiety. The higher your anxiety, the harder it is to get you numb. Many dentists aren’t even aware of this connection.
When this happens, there is an ever worsening cycle that makes your experiences at the dentist disastrous. You have anxiety. You can’t get numb. Your dental appointment is painful. This in turn increases your anxiety. The way to break out of this cycle is to use a sedation dentist. These are general dentists who are compassionate with anxious patients and want to help them get through their appointments in an anxiety-free/pain-free way.
Sedation dentists will have varying levels of sedation. Which one you use will depend on your level of anxiety. In your case, I am going to recommend you use oral conscious sedation. This is administered by a pill. This pill is strong. You will need someone to drive you to and from your appointment as well as stay with you for several hours until you are lucid and steady on your feet. The great news about this is many patients find they are so relaxed they completely sleep through their appointment.
I know you are dreading the idea of going back to the dentist. Using a sedation dentist will change your life. I’m saying this because I do not want you to put this off. You have a dental infection. It will continue to spread until the dentist you choose gets in there and physically removes the infected pulp. If you think about how close your jaw is to your heart, brain, and lungs, you can see why dental infections are considered dental emergencies. People still die from leaving these untreated.
This blog is brought to you by Dr. Susan Dennis of Kalamazoo.