An upcoming oral surgery appointment can be a very real source of severe anxiety for some patience, ranging from pre-surgery jitters to anxiety, to a full-blown phobia. Despite the advances in oral surgery treatments to ensure a smooth process and a little pain as possible for patients, anxiety still persists.
We get it. There are actually a lot of studies out there that explain the correlation between perceived dental pain and feelings of anxiety or phobia. As described by Eiji Sakamoto* and Takeshi Yokoyama, Department of Dental Anaesthesiology, Kyushu University, Japan:
"Anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness or unease, which is caused by imminent events or something with an uncertain outcome. In addition, anxiety is often related with fear. Fear is also an unpleasant emotion, which is caused by the belief that something is dangerous. Both feelings are strongly associated with pain experience, and frequently have an effect on our behaviour abnormally"
So if you're feeling concerned about your level of anxiety towards an upcoming surgery, don't worry - it's natural, and you aren't the only one.
Fortunately, thanks to the commonality of this experience, there is a lot of research surrounding factors that can reduce the feeling of anxiety towards oral surgery. So if you have an upcoming appointment, here are our top four recommendations to reduce and anxiety and fear.
1. Pick the Right Oral Surgery Clinic for You
You might be surprised to know that the actual clinic that you opt for can have a huge impact on your perception of your upcoming treatment and levels of anxiety. That's why if you know you're prone to stress before surgery, make sure to shop around until you find a clinic that sets you at ease.
If you're not sure what to look out for when you're visiting oral surgery clinics, here's what we'd recommend:
- Office ambience such as a lack of bright, white light, posters on the walls, ample magazines in the reception area and a warm and welcoming area with lots of space can subconsciously put patient's minds at ease, so if you walk into a practice and you feel discomfort at the clinical nature, it might not be the surgery for you.
- Interestingly, smell can trigger an array of emotions, and can condition patients negatively toward dental treatment. If you've ever heard people complaining of a 'hospital-like smell', there's actually a psychological reason for that. Consider choosing a clinic that uses aromatherapy (or even a simple diffuser to mask the scent) to keep your mind at ease.
- It's not just about your Oral Surgeon either, the first people you meet in a clinic are receptionists, dental nurses, and dental hygienists, who are all crucial to your overall experience. Make sure that when you enter a clinic, you're greeted warmly and made to feel comfortable.
As you can see, your experience begins with the clinic you choose, so make to do your research before booking if you know you're prone to worry and anxiety towards oral surgery.
2. Communicate with your Oral Surgeon
A good patient-surgeon relationship is crucial for the management of anxiety, so when you visit your oral surgeon for your initial consultation, it's really important to go in with a positive attitude towards open communication. A calm, and non-judgemental explanation of the procedure you're undergoing and reassurance from your surgeon is key to building trust, rapport and reducing anxiety, so make sure to:
- Express your concern and anxious feelings towards your upcoming treatment.
- Ask as many questions as possible. We'd even suggest preparing a list of questions and bringing it with you so you don't forget in the heat of the moment.
- Explore your options with your oral surgeon and ask for alternatives so you can be sure that you're getting the best treatment for you and reduce 'second-guessing'.
- Request a written FAQ sheet so you can refer back to it when you get home.
A good oral surgeon understands that a high-level or reassurance is important for some patients, and that simply trusting that you're with the best surgeon for the job is enough to reduce stress and anxiety, so don't feel any shame in asking - they're there to help.
3. Use Relaxation Techniques Before and During Oral Surgery
A relaxation response is the opposite of a stress response and has the potential to lower stress and anxiety levels and assist with your ability to cope before and during the procedure. There are lots of relaxation management techniques out there that your oral surgeon will be able to talk you through, but for your ease of mind, here are a few common ones you can try out:
- Jacobsen’s progressive muscular relaxation: This involves tensing specific muscle groups for 5–7 seconds, followed by 20 seconds of relaxation. You can take a look at the step-by-step process, here.
- Ost’s applied relaxation technique: for this, we'd encourage writing down your anxious feelings and apply muscle relaxation before you attend your appointment. This way, you'll learn to become relaxed more and more quickly over the course of treatment.
- Diaphragmatic breathing: have you ever heard someone say 'just take a deep breath?'. This one's a pretty common technique and it's crucial. The use of the diaphragm for breathing reduces tension in the chest and provides more oxygen for the body per breath.
We'd always recommend practising these techniques at home so that when the time for your appointment comes, you've mastered the art of becoming increasingly relaxed and can apply your new-learned skill set to your oral surgery.
4. Anaesthetic Options for Oral Surgery
For some people, all of the relaxation techniques and trust in your Oral Surgeon in the world doesn't feel like enough to resolve the anxiety that comes with oral surgery. If this is you, don't worry - there are sedative options that will make the experience more manageable.
- Oral sedation: A great option for those who's anxiety is rooted in a fear of needs, this allows you to undergo an oral surgery procedure without anxiety or pain through oral sedatives in tablet or liquid form. You'll comfortably fall into a relaxed sleep-like state so you will feel and remember very little.
- Nitrous-oxide: Commonly known as laughing gas, nitrous oxide is a controlled mix of nitrous oxide and oxygen administered through a mask. It's usually used in conjunction with a local anaesthetic and can help to assist in feeling relaxed during oral surgery.
- General Anaesthetic: This option is known as 'going under' is administered via IV drip and will send you to sleep for the duration of the surgery. It is a very controlled and precise procedure and relieves all symptoms of stress and anxiety completely.
NSOMS Techniques for Oral Surgery Anxiety Relief
At NSOMS we apply all of the techniques we can to ensure that our patients receive the best quality care and feel safe and relaxed throughout their oral surgery experience. From our expert specialist oral surgeons to the spacious nature of our practice, we're thinking of you.
- We are committed to providing a safe, comfortable space for all our clients which includes providing as much information about each procedure as possible.
- Our spacious offices and treatment facilities flip the script on what a conventional clinic can be, removing the claustrophobic element that other dental studios can create and replacing it with an open, inviting environment.
- We understand that many people find coming to a dental surgery a nerve-wracking experience, so we go above and beyond to put your mind at ease. We do that through providing comprehensive details about each step of the process as well as furnishing our surgery with chairs and bedding to allow for swift recovery post-treatment.
For more information on how we can help you, get in touch with one of our surgeons below.