It is very common for many of us to have an aversion to going to the dentist. Over 20 million Americans suffer from some sort of dental anxiety, and this fear can have dire consequences on our oral health if it keeps us from making the appointments that we need to keep our teeth and gums in good condition.
Have You Considered Sedation Dentistry?
Sedation dentistry is a specialized service that your dentist provides to help ease anxiety and discomfort during a variety of dental procedures. In a sedation situation, your dentist will administer a light sedative to calm and relax you—or if you prefer, put you to sleep completely—so that he can perform dental work efficiently, painlessly, and with no harmful side effects to you. The most common types of sedation in a dental office include the following:
1. Nitrous oxide – Nitrous oxide is administered through a nose mask that offers light relaxation, but you are aware of the fact that work is taking place. The gas wears off quickly once your procedure is completed, leaving you free to drive yourself home after your visit.
2. Oral sedatives – Oral sedatives are generally taken an hour or so before your procedure, and their effects are a bit more pronounced than that of nitrous oxide. You’ll be fully awake but less anxious, and you may feel a bit sleepy until the effects completely subside.
3. Intravenous sedatives – General anesthesia can relax you or put you to sleep completely, depending on what you and your dentist determine is right for you. The effects of general anesthesia take a bit more time to wear off, and you will most likely need a ride home after your procedure to avoid issues when driving.
Most people with extreme dental anxiety initially assume that general anesthesia will be best for them, but there are potential side effects and complications that come with deeper sedation. Talk to your dentist about the potential risks and side effects that are associated with “sleep” dentistry, and make sure you know what is involved so you can make a more confident choice for your care.
What Is Involved With The Procedure?
Depending on the type of sedation that you and your dentist recommend, you’ll need to follow directions for administration prior to your visit. Oral sedatives should be taken about an hour before your procedure, while you don’t need to do anything to prepare for nitrous oxide.
If you are receiving general anesthesia, it will be necessary to refrain from eating and drinking for several hours before your procedure. Avoid taking certain prescription medications, Tylenol, or Ibuprofen before your visit, as they can cause complications with the general anesthesia to be administered. Following your dentist’s recommendations to the letter will ensure that you have a safe, pain-free dental experience.
Who Is A Good Candidate For Sedation Dentistry?
People consider sedation dentistry for various reasons. If you recognize any of these situations as they apply to you, ask about sedation at your next dental visit:
- People with dental fears and phobias
- Those who have had bad dental experiences in the past
- Those with sensitive oral nerves
- A small or rigid jaw that becomes sore with dental work
- Resistance to local anesthetics
- General anxiety
When in doubt, ask your dentist his professional opinion about work needed and your individual considerations.
How Can Sedation Dentistry Benefit Me? Is It Safe?
If you are putting off dental work due to anxiety and fear, you could be compromising your dental health and ultimately, your overall health. Sedation dentistry is a safe, relaxing alternative to avoiding care and feeling discomfort and pain. Millions of Americans are now considering the use of sedation dentistry to complete work that has been avoided for years and to bring their oral health and wellness back into balance. Talk to your dental professionals to see what services they offer regarding sedation, and work with them to develop a care plan that helps to restore your brilliantly healthy smile.