Dental anxiety is nothing to be embarrassed about. Anxiety over visits to the dentist are normal and are typically due to a bad experience that a patient may have had years ago. The good news is that dental technology has improved to the point where many procedures that were once painful are now pain-free. And for patients who suffer from extreme forms of dental anxiety, we offer sedation dentistry to make procedures as easy as possible to undergo. We want you to be comfortable, relaxed and happy with the results of any treatment we offer.
Fear of visiting the dentist is normal and we’ve seen patients of all ages and sizes who feel anxious when they sit down in the chair. Even if these fears are misplaced, we understand that they are real, and we do everything we can to alleviate that anxiety. Here are some of the most common forms of dental anxiety that some patients experience:
- Fear of “the drill”
- Fear of the dentist
- Fear of pain or injections
- Embarrassment over condition of the teeth
- Fear of gagging
- Fear of loss of control
Many patients are surprised when they learn that “the drill” has actually been replaced by painless laser techniques. No matter what form of anxiety you may suffer from, sedation dentistry is an option that can help you to undergo important dental procedures, without experiencing any anxiety or pain.
You might think that sedation dentistry involves putting the patient to sleep, so they will wake up after the procedure is over. While that is an option for certain surgical techniques, most sedation dentistry leaves the patient conscious and awake for the procedure. The sedatives used are taken orally and the goal of them is to keep the patient calm and free from anxiety. Here are some distinct advantages of sedation dentistry:
- Pain free with no needles involved
- Anxiety is gone
- Safe with very few side effects
- More procedures can be performed in a single visit
- Procedures seem very quick when sedated
Options that can be used to alleviate a patient’s anxiety and to keep them from experiencing any pain include nitrous oxide, IV sedation and oral conscious sedation.
Nitrous Oxide: Sometimes referred to as “laughing gas,” nitrous oxide has been safely used by dentists for many years. Delivered through a nose hood, the nitrous oxide prevents the patient from feeling anxiety or pain. The gas improves the patient’s mood and gives them an elevated sense of well-being. Temporary tingling and numbness are the most common side effects.
IV Sedation: Intravenous sedation does involve the use of a needle. Patients who use IV sedation often say they feel like the slept through a procedure, even though they were awake and conscious for it. The effects are immediate, because the sedative is injected into the bloodstream. Patients who undergo IV sedation can feel groggy after the procedure, so you will need to have someone drive you home if you opt for this method.
Oral Conscious Sedation: This form of sedation is accomplished through the use of common anti-anxiety medication, such as Valium or Ativan. These medications are provided prior to the procedure. Patients remain awake when using the medication, but the senses are dulled. Many patients report that they cannot remember any pain or smells from the procedure once it is over. The effects of different types of anti-anxiety medications vary, so your dentist will select a form of medicine that will work best for you based on the type of dental procedure being performed.
We can help you overcome dental anxiety, so that your teeth can receive the care that they deserve. Contact our office to schedule an appointment today.