Are you scared that a visit to the dentist will bring on an episode? I was terrified!
I didn’t know what to expect because I haven’t had any dental work since I was diagnosed with supraventricular tachycardia. For this reason, I came out with a plan on how to have an SVT free experience at the dentist, and I want to share it with you.
You can avoid having an SVT episode at the dentist by asking for local anesthesia without epinephrine and keeping your anxiety under control. Epinephrine contracts the blood vessels and increases the heart rate, making the heart pump harder and possibly induce an attack. Anxiety activates the “fight or flight” response which causes an adrenaline rush in the bloodstream, and the heart rate increases as a result.
Is it the anxiety or the anaesthesia that makes your heart race?
For me, it’s both.
The fact that you can choose the right treatment method gives you the feeling that you have control over the situation. Don’t forget:
90 percent of the worries we have never happen
However, the anxiety was not caused by my appointment at the dentist. The interpretation I gave to this event and the way I reacted to it ultimately determined the impact it had on my condition.
How to find the right dentist if you have SVT?
What was I looking for? Personally, I looked for the following criteria:
- Caring, taking time to explain the procedure and not rushing
- Compassionate, listening to my concern and answering all my questions
- Professional, having the best reviews
- Gentle, patients saying they look forward to going to the next appointment
- They would respect my needs, and I would be involved in decisions regarding my treatment
- They would be willing to give me some extra attention and special treatment to accommodate my condition if needed.
- A good injection giver for a comfortable dental experience
- Having a clean and organized office
The internet was my go to when looking for local dentists with the best reviews. I also asked family and friends about their dental experiences, particularly if their doctor could hit that precise location and numb their gums successfully.
After I found a family dentist practice which seemed to cover my requirements, I made an appointment for a cleaning and check-up first.
Ask for an epinephrine free anesthesia to avoid SVT
On arrival I had to fill out the enrollment form that gave the dentist more information about my health which included SVT as an issue and the request to not have epinephrine with any local anaesthetic. (1)
My dentist joked that didn’t want me to have an SVT episode in his room, but instead have it at the comfort of my own home.
Finding a dentist I could trust and communicate easily hugely helped to reduce my anxiety level. I wanted to choose a low-stress appointment time. For me, late morning was best as I didn’t want to be rushed or under pressure.
I wanted to have at least one hour of preparation before leaving the house, so I made the appointment for 10 am.
Management of dental anxiety to prevent SVT attack
How do you talk to yourself?
As an anxious person, I needed to prepare myself mentally. A week prior to the appointment, I started with this self-talk:
“I have already found the right dentist. I know that I am in good hands. I discussed my problem with my dentist and did everything needed to have a painless and SVT free dental experience. Now it is time to believe this and change the way I think about going to the dentist.
I will have one of the best days of my SVT life. Not only will I be able to smile with confidence again, but I will overcome anxiety and SVT one more time. With every little step, I will build more confidence that I can manage my condition, and I can do things to be in control.”
I had to convince myself at the subconscious level that the outcome of going to the dentist was more significant than the fear of having an SVT attack.
What we believe at our subconscious level becomes our reality. My body didn’t know the difference between the anxiety that I experienced when I was in the dentist’s chair and the anxiety caused by the thought that I was sitting in the dentist’s chair. My body reacted the same in both circumstances: butterflies in my stomach, increase heart rate and anxiety. This could escalate depending on the other thoughts I dwelled on.
Positive thinking is protective for the heart (2)
Another thing I had to deal with was how to step back from my negative thinking during the day. It is impossible not to have negative thoughts. Still, instead of ruminating on them all day or even worse believing them, I identified, recognized, named, wrote them down, let them go and replaced them with positive affirmations.
One of the statements that my mind was busy with was:
“I am afraid that I am going to have palpitations and skip beats that lead to a SVT attack while being in the dentist’s room.”
Every time I found myself lost in this gloomy outlook, I would tell myself:
“I recognize my thinking is fear-based, and this thought causes me anxiety. It is just a thought. It is not the reality. I will not let my thoughts create my reality. I will say no to it and let it go. I will let go of the anxiety because this thought doesn’t define my future. I will be fine; my heart will be fine. I can stop feeling this way; everything is under my control!”
I regularly changed my focus from negative thoughts to positive ones.
Affirmations or the method of repeating positive affirmations is a tool used to trigger our subconscious mind to feel motivated, happy, inspired, safe and anything we desire to explore. The principle of this method is that instead of feeding our minds with negative thoughts, we provide our brain with positive, empowering, peaceful and encouraging words that will have a positive effect on how we feel.
Food and sleep could trigger SVT
One day before my appointment, I carefully watched what I ate and drank, avoided sugary foods and ate foods that help reduce anxiety. I would have brazil nuts, asparagus, avocado, blueberries, camomile tea, and doubled my vitamin C dose.
I went to bed at a reasonable hour and took a good dose of magnesium to make sure I would have a good sleep. If I slept well the night before, I would be energized and in a more relaxed state the next morning.
Shift your focus away from anxiety
After all this hard work, the day of truth arrived.
I took a half-day off work to reward myself after the appointment with “me time”.
What made me happy and excited about the day was thinking that after the dentist care is done I am going to have me-time, a walk on the beach, shopping or doing whatever I enjoy most.
It had been an excellent way to shift my focus from imaginary scenarios that trigger anxiety to a not so far away pleasant moment I could create with confidence.
No SVT during dental treatment
In the morning, I took some spare time ahead of the appointment; 30 minutes of prayer, visualization, and a motivational video just to be in the right mindset.
I arrived 10 minutes early and sat in my car for a few more minutes doing breathing exercise to minimize the time spent in the waiting room.
I walked in the dentist setting with mixed feelings; anticipation, feeling content, even excitement alternating with moments of bearable anxiety which is normal.
There wasn’t much talking, but he knew how to make me feel me at ease. He explained every step, which was helpful to be mentally prepared for what was going to happen next.
During the procedure, I was observing my breath and intentionally taking regular, slow breaths to reduce my stress level. Everything went smooth, no ectopics, no skipped beats, no SVT.
Moreover, the dentist numbed the spot where the shot would have been given with a local anaesthetic, a gel on a cotton swab. I didn’t feel when he inserted the needle at all. The whole procedure was painless.
I have heard from other people’s story that the anaesthetic without epinephrine is not long lasting. In saying that, I don’t know how many shots he gave me, but my gums were numb 3 hours after the work was done. So pain free dental work is definitely possible if you find a skilled doctor.
I couldn’t believe that it was over when he said: “You are done.”
The first thing I did after walking out of the dentist office was calling my husband:
“I have done it! I am soo happy! It was much easier than I expected. Completely pain-free! I have just locked in my next dental check in 6 months! I am not going to let my SVT rule my life. OMG I can’t believe I have done it!”