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Does the thought of visiting the dentist fill you with dread? If so, you could be one of 15% of the U.S. population with anxiety or fear of visiting the dentist. Being scared of going to the dentist is a well-known cliché, but for those people who suffer from it, it can be a debilitating problem that prevents them from getting the support with their oral health that they need to enjoy an attractive smile and good general health and wellbeing.
If this sounds like you, then chances are that you are already concerned about the condition of your teeth and oral health. How long has it been since you last visited your dentist? A year? Two years? Maybe more? During that time, you may have started to develop issues such as bad breath, toothache, discolored teeth or receding gums. You may even have lost a tooth or two. Many people who live with fear of the dentist would rather avoid eating certain foods, take pain medication and suffer the consequences than see their dentist. But many of these people don’t know that it is now far easier to get the oral health support that they need without stress and anxiety, thanks to sedation dentistry.
Sedation dentistry is the name used to describe the use of medications to mildly sedate a patient before they undergo a dental procedure or appointment. This could be for anything from a routine check-up, or a simple repair to a highly invasive procedure like root canal or getting dental implants. The level of sedation used will depend on two factors – how anxious the patient is, and the severity of the treatment that they need. Dentists will always opt for the lightest sedation needed to get you calm and comfortable, which lowers the risks associated with the use of sedation medications.
As well as being a very popular solution for patients with fear of the dentist, sedation dentistry is also regularly recommended for patients who have disabilities that make it difficult or impossible for them to tolerate a regular dental appointment. The disabilities may be cognitive or physical, with examples including patients who are unable to understand or comply with instructions, such as sitting still or keeping their mouth open.
Most dentists offer several different types of sedation, and which one you’ll be offered will be discussed with you at your consultation. They may include:
Also known as laughing gas, nitrous oxide provides the lightest level of sedation which is administered via a mask placed over your nose. As you inhale the gas, you’ll feel light-headed, calm and more relaxed, while maintaining total awareness. The feeling will wear off as soon as you stop inhaling the gas, making it ideal for very short dental procedures.
If you need slightly more significant sedation, you may be offered an oral medication that will make you feel heavier, calmer and less anxious. You’ll be aware of what’s going on, but it may not feel like it’s happening to you. You’ll take this around an hour before your appointment and the effects can last for some hours afterwards, meaning that you’ll need someone to take you home after.
This is administered intravenously via a cannula placed into the back of your hand. Patients are placed on the edge of consciousness, and you’ll find it impossible to tell what is happening around you. You also won’t have any memory of the procedure after. Again, the effects can last for some hours and support after the procedure is essential, including someone driving you home and staying with you.
If your dental health is suffering as a result of your anxiety about visiting the dentist, you may be a good candidate for sedation dentistry. Contact us today to find out more.