If you’re afraid of the dentist, you’re not alone. There are dental cowards in every walk of life. However, your fear shouldn’t prevent you from getting the dental treatment you may need. Even if you’re not having problems, dental checkups can prevent small issues from turning into bigger ones in the future. Teeth should also be cleaned by a dentist or dental hygienist on a regular basis.
Standard Dental Procedures
Some people have no particular dental fears. For them, standard dental procedures work just fine. Standard dental procedures are performed while the patient is fully awake and aware. No medications other than local anesthesia are used. For someone who can cope with having a cavity filled while fully conscious, standard procedures are adequate.
But this isn’t true for everyone. For some, the whine of the dentist’s drill, even though the drilling itself is painless, is enough to produce extremely high levels of anxiety and dread. It may be difficult for some fearful patients to sit through longer procedures, such as root canals and crowns. Still other people have dental phobias and experience actual terror during a dental visit.
Sedation Dentistry is Available
Sedation during dentistry allows patients to relax, free from fear and anxiety, while their dental work is being completed. There are several types of sedation dentistry available to you. Be aware that not all dentists offer this service, so be sure to ask the dentist or dental staff first.
What is Sedation Dentistry?
There are three basic types:
- Nitrous oxide sedation
- Oral sedation
- IV sedation
Nitrous oxide is also called laughing gas. This is because it makes many people feel giddy. It was first used in the 1800’s during a tooth extraction. Nitrous oxide produces feelings of extreme relaxation. It also has some pain-killing properties, too. You breathe a mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen through a mask. Within seconds, you will feel very peaceful and unconcerned with what’s happening around you. Once the gas is discontinued, effects wear off very quickly. In fact, it’s the only type of sedation that allows you to drive yourself home afterwards.
Oral sedation is also known as conscious sedation. This is because its effects allow you to remain awake, able to respond to commands. However, the medications used will erase all feelings of anxiety and dread. Oral sedation can be adjusted for the needs of different patients. By using a variety of medications and dosages, the dentist can offer a comfortable dental experience to many types of patients. Oral sedation is given only by mouth in the form of pills that you take shortly before your procedure. Don’t worry; plenty of time is allowed for the pills to take full effect. This method shouldn’t be confused with sleep dentistry.
IV sedation is the term for what is sometimes called sleep dentistry. It’s administered by a specially trained dentist through an intravenous line in your arm or hand. Powerful medications induce a much higher state of sedation than oral sedation can. You’re not actually unconscious and can respond to verbal commands, but your perception will be one of total relaxation. Some of the drugs used in IV sedation have an amnesiac effect. This means that you likely won’t remember the procedure at all. Many patients think afterwards that they slept throughout the whole event, but this really isn’t true.
Both oral and IV sedation require that someone be available to drive you home after your appointment.
You Have Choices
Don’t let your dental fears keep you from the dental attention your mouth needs. Dental sedation is safe and effective. More than likely, a dentist near you offers the kind of sedation that’s just right for you. Don’t be embarrassed to ask. Some patients are fine with standard procedure dentistry; others are not. There is nothing wrong with choosing either one.
Use the information you received here today to help you make the right choice for you.
Christopher is an author, blogger, and musician from Wichita, KS who has been fearful of visits with a dentist most of his life until he discovered sedation dentistry.