I have a horrible fear of dentists. I had a massive toothache which hurt so much my husband finally made me go. I wouldn’t have followed through and I guess he knew that because he took me there himself. I know it’s childish, but I can’t control fear. Anyway, the dentist said I had an infection and needed a root canal treatment. He scheduled an appointment for two days from now and gave me an antibiotic and painkiller to hold me off until them. I’d really like to cancel the appointment. The dentist was nice enough but the appointment itself was excruciating. I don’t think I can go back this quickly. How long can I safely put this off?
I’m sorry you’ve been in so much pain! Please don’t feel like you’re being childish. Many, many people have dental anxiety. I promise you, you’re not alone. I want to put your mind at ease. There is a way for you to have a completely stress free and pain free dental appointment.
There are dentists who are compassionate and provide for patients who have fears like you do. They can provide you with dental sedation. For severely anxious patients, oral conscious sedation is usually the best fit. You simply take a pill. I’ve heard patients refer to it as their “I don’t care pill”. Once that pill kicks in, you really won’t care. You’ll be completely relaxed. But, the best part to me is that if you want to you can stay completely alert and communicate with the dentist. Though, in all honesty, most patients prefer to just treat this as a gratuitous nap and sleep through the entire procedure.
The only downside is you’re unsteady on your feet, therefore you’ll need someone to drive you to and from your appointment. Ideally, they’ll stay with you throughout the remainder of the day until the sedation wears off.
Now that I’ve (hopefully) eased some of your terror about going to the dentist, let’s discuss that root canal treatment of yours.
Is a Dental Infection a Dental Emergency?
Any time you have pain, it’s a dental emergency. If your tooth is still hurting, then you have an active infection, which means it’s spreading. If it’s not hurting, you have some time. Though, not hurting because you’re on painkillers doesn’t count. Now, the antibiotic may hold it off for a day or two, but honestly, you really don’t want to put this off. The danger is, when left too long, is the root of the tooth will get resorbed. Then, there’s no longer any way to save your tooth.
If that happens you’ll be looking at tooth replacement options, such as dental implants. Being proactive is truly the best thing you can do. It’s helpful for your anxiety because you won’t have this dread hanging over you. It’s helpful for your teeth because your dentist can take the least invasive procedure possible with your situation. The longer a patient waits to deal with a problem, the more invasive the solution becomes.
Best of luck to you!
This blog is brought to you by Dr. Susan Dennis.