Do you feel a twinge of fear every time you realize it’s time to visit the dentist? You’re not alone. Fortunately, many dental offices, including ours, care deeply about our patients’ physical and emotional comfort, and we’re ready to offer you solutions to dental anxiety.
Many people feel that sense of anxiety when visiting the dentist. In fact, about half of dental patients feel some nervous when headed to the dentist, often because they’ve had some bad experiences. A study by Colgate shows that as many as 15% of patients actually avoid the dentist because of their fears.
It’s time to put those unpleasant experiences in the past. Safe sedation dentistry is available to help you through everything from mild stress to outright dental phobia. Whatever’s making you nervous, we can help.
What Is Sedation Dentistry?
Sedation dentistry helps patients feel comfortable and relaxed at the dentist through medication. Patients can choose from different types and levels of sedation. Most patients opt for minimal sedation, in which they’re awake during a dental procedure but feel relaxed. Often they don’t have many memories of their dental visit. Other patients choose a version of general anesthesia. With this type of dental sedation, you’re not conscious or aware of the procedure while it’s going on.
Sedation dentistry is typically available for more lengthy or complex dental procedures, such as root canals, crown placements, tooth extractions or dental implants. It’s also possible to opt for sedation dentistry for dental cleanings or getting cavities filled.
Benefits of Sedation Dentistry
If you’re dealing with any kind of dental anxiety, you know right away why sedation dentistry is of interest. It helps reduce the stress and fear that you experience when you head to the dentist (or even when you think about making an appointment). Because sedation dentistry helps you keep calm and relaxed at the dentist, you’re able to get the care you need.
Many patients also experience a greater tolerance to pain and discomfort when they’re under dental sedation. That means you’re more comfortable not just when you’re in the dentist’s chair but as you head home from the office. In addition, you’re likely to be able to tolerate longer procedures or treatments under dental sedation. That means you may need fewer appointments to complete complex work — and the idea of fewer dental appointments will also help lower your anxiety.
Types of Sedation Dentistry
The two primary types of sedation dentistry are oral sedation and the use of nitrous oxide. We offer both at Dynamic Smile Design, so you can choose which sounds the most appealing to you.
With oral sedation, you simply take a pill when you arrive at the office. We can add extra oral sedation while you’re here if you find you want it. We’ll also advise you as to which type of sedation will be most appropriate for you, based on your medical history and your current medications.
We offer an ample range of choices, so you can get just the level of sedation that you prefer during your visit. We’ll help you choose between:
- Ativan (lorazepam): Used to treat anxiety and seizures, Ativan is a safe medication commonly used before medical procedures.
- Halcion (triazolam): A common sedative used to treat insomnia and anxiety, Halcion can’t be combined with certain medications. You’ll leave your dentist’s appointment with little or no memory of the procedure, feeling very relaxed.
- Sonata (zaleplon): This drug used to treat insomnia is also very effective at keeping you comfortable and relaxed for your appointment. In some cases, we’ll combine it with an antihistamine for a greater relaxing effect.
- Valium (diazepam): This sedative used to treat anxiety and muscle spams will leave you with little memory of the details of your procedure; depending on your other medications, it may not be the right choice, though.
- Vistaril (hydroxyzine): This medication is actually an antihistimine that’s used to treat hives, skin rashes and itching, in addition to anxiety.
These oral sedation choices are ideal for patients with significant dental anxiety, as well as those with a strong gag reflex. They let you complete your treatment in the minimal number of appointments. In addition to making you feel relaxed, carefree and possibly drowsy, they will help your jaw relax and they often have the effect of dulling the noise of dental tools.
With most of the above medications, you’ll need to have someone with you to drive you home. All these medications are mild and safe. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry has approved oral sedation dentistry even for children.
Nitrous oxide is a well-known type of sedation long used in dentistry. Sometimes known as “laughing gas,” this sedative gas combines 70% oxygen with 30% nitrous oxide, so you’re getting plenty of oxygen. No pills or needles are needed for administration of this sedation, which is delivered via a comfortable mask that covers just your nose.
Nitrous oxide gets to work quickly, usually within minutes. You’ll feel relaxed and happy, and maybe even as if you’re floating a bit. It wears off quickly as well, also within minutes. That means you can drive yourself home and get back to work (or play) right away.
Learn More About Sedation Dentistry
If you’re anxious about your next dentist’s visit, we want to help. Dr. Reshma J. Patel is devoted to helping you feel comfortable and safe. We center every aspect of your visit on your needs and your comfort, so you can feel safe while getting the complete dental care that you need.
Contact us today to make an appointment. No matter what dental treatment you need, there’s no reason to let anxiety keep you away from a healthy smile.