Do you suffer from a dental phobia? You may be one of the many who put off dental procedures because of fear of visits to your dentist. Here is some great news – you may be a good candidate for sedation dentistry. There are several levels of sedation that can make your dental visits more tolerable – so you will be able to enjoy a healthy smile.
Gentle dentistry. If you have never experienced dental sedation, you may have questions that you will want to be answered before you make the appointment with your dentist.
Why have sedation during dental procedures?
Many people have a fear of going to the dentist – and different reasons. Some people fear the pain, the sound, the procedures – or just have a generalized fear and they aren’t even sure why. For people with a dental phobia, sedation dentistry makes all of the difference. Many people put off important dental work because of their anxiety. Putting off dental treatment can lead to serious dental and health problems.
Sedation during dental procedures is especially indicated for children requiring extensive dental procedures and for handicapped individuals, or those with special needs.
What are the benefits of gentle dentistry?
For people who experience severe anxiety with the thoughts of visiting their dentist – gentle, sedation dentistry can make a world of difference. Besides relieving the anxiety of the procedures, there are other important benefits that sedation dentistry can bring to you.
- Decreases gagging
- Decreases muscle and joint soreness
- Decreases the number of dental visits
- Shortens appointments
Many people have a very sensitive gag reflex. A local anesthetic numbs the area that is being worked on, but can’t help stop you from the unpleasant gagging that often comes with dental procedures. The gag reflex itself can increase your anxiety level. When you have dental sedation, the gag reflex is no longer a problem.
Have you ever noticed that you wake up stiff and sore the day after dental procedures? If you are anxious during your dental treatment, your muscles and joints are tense, which can cause pain and discomfort. Gentle sedation will keep you relaxed during your procedures with no residual muscle or joint pain the next day.
Some dental procedures can be lengthy. One important advantage of sedation dentistry - treatments may not take as long. Your appointment may be shorter – and the procedures may be able to be completed in fewer appointments.
What type of sedation is used?
There are several types of sedation that is used during dental procedures. Your dentist will recommend the appropriate level of sedation for the procedures you are having. He or she will also take into consideration your level of anxiety.
- General anesthesia
- Nitrous oxide
- Oral sedation
- Twilight sedation
What to expect when under general anesthesia
You will be completely asleep during general anesthesia. This type of sedation is used for lengthy and more serious procedures. Medication will be administered intravenously and when you wake up your dental procedure will be over. The medication is given slowly so that you are minimally sedated at the appropriate level for your procedure. When the medication is discontinued, you will gradually awaken. Your vital signs will be strictly monitored during your sedation. General anesthesia is commonly used in children or those who require extensive dental work. It is also frequently used for wisdom teeth removal.
Nitrous oxide (laughing gas) is commonly used for dental procedures. It is a safe and effective sedative that is mixed with oxygen. You will breathe in the gas through a small mask that fits over your nose. Nitrous oxide is fast-acting. You may feel a little light-headed or a bit of tingling in your arms and legs. With this type of sedation, you should feel calm and comfortable. Since you aren’t asleep, you will be able to hear and respond to your dentist. When the nitrous oxide is discontinued, the effects will soon wear off.
Another type of gentle dentistry uses an oral sedative that allows you to feel relaxed and comfortable during your dental procedures. You will take a mild sedative approximately one hour prior to your procedure. With little to no side effects, the medication will make your dental procedure much easier and your anxiety will be non-existent. Many people prefer to have this type of pre-medication even before having their teeth cleaned.
If you and your dentist decide that twilight sedation is best for you, you will be aware of your surroundings while feeling relaxed and comfortable. Twilight anesthesia is a technique where a mild dose of general anesthesia is given. This will give you relief from your anxiety – while still being conscious. This level of sedation leaves you with very little memory of the procedure.
Did you know that one out of seven people suffers from some form of dental anxiety? If you are one of the seven, you will appreciate how you can have your dental treatments done without the stress and discomfort that you have come to associate with visits to your dentist. To make your next dental procedure anxiety-free, contact your dentist for information about gentle dentistry.