A dental implant can improve your quality of life, but the procedure itself can sound more than a little scary, especially to those who already fear going to the dentist. If you're missing a tooth or multiple teeth, you really do need to get dental implants because those will protect the rest of your mouth by holding teeth in place (without the implant, the rest of your teeth could move and create bite problems). But if you're really terrified of the procedure, what can you do?
If it's just the procedure itself that you're afraid of -- the noise, the office, and so on -- sedation is your best option. You can be sedated for your procedure, and you'll need someone to drive you to and from the dentist's office. You won't be unconscious, just groggy and possibly asleep at points, but the sedation will allow you to block out the noises, vibrations, and other stimuli that could set off your fear response. You may feel a bit tired for a couple of days, and you may have to be sedated again if your implant needs two appointments (the first for the actual implant, and the second a few months later to install the crown after the implant site has healed).
The Right Type of Implant
If it's not the thought of dental tools that make you scared, but the idea of having something fake placed in your jaw forcibly, or if you're worried about the sheer amount of work that has to be done for your situation, discuss different types of implants with your dentist to see if another type might alleviate some of the resistance. If you have one missing tooth, you'll need only one implant -- but you might be able to get a same-day implant (when everything is done in one appointment) instead of a months-long two-appointment healing odyssey. If you are missing several teeth in a row, an implant will likely have only two implant sites with a bridge instead of one individual implant for each missing tooth.
Dentures and Mouthguards
If you're truly torn or need to find another dentist who offers the options that will make you feel better, you can get dentures for temporary use. You may also want to ask your dentist about using generic mouthguards to hold your teeth in place while you get everything else taken care of. These mouthguards are plastic; you soften them up with warm water and bite down to create an impression of your teeth.
They're usually used to prevent grinding teeth when you sleep, but if they require an impression, they may help a bit as you look for a dentist who offers sedation or other implant options.