For some, the thought of sitting in the dental chair can be so dreadful that a simple routine visit becomes a reason for stress and nervousness. This condition is referred to as dental anxiety. It affects a fairly large proportion of the population across all age groups. And while there is nothing to be afraid of when visiting the dentist, it is understandable why some experience elevated levels of stress and discomfort when put in this position of vulnerability.
Dental practices work to reduce anxiety before the patient even sets foot in the office. The staff is trained to tell you what to expect and respond to any questions you have to ensure that you are comfortable during your visit. In most cases, gaining an understanding of your dental services and treatment helps to relieve dental anxiety. But if you are still nervous, you can discuss the possibility of using dental sedation with your dentist.
Types of Sedation Dentistry
With sedation dentistry, the dentist uses certain medications to make you relax and feel drowsy during a dental visit or procedure. Sedation is different from pain medication, so, depending on the procedure, the dentist may still require local anaesthesia.
There are different methods used in sedation dentistry. The most common types are:
- Inhaled Sedation: You breathe in a mixture of laughing gas (nitrous oxide) and oxygen. The effect is felt within minutes of breathing the gas, helping you remain calm and impervious to pain during the procedure.
- Oral Conscious Sedation: You take medications by mouth, at least one hour before the procedure, so you feel groggy but remain conscious.
- Intravenous (IV) Sedation: This is a stronger form of sedation for very nervous patients.
Sedation is safe and effective for easing the feelings of anxiety when administered by dentists who are trained in its use. It can be used to address common concerns of fearful patients, including:
- Anxiety About Needles or Dental Injections: Sedation can increase the state of relaxation so you are not aware of the use of needles.
- Anxiety About the Smells, Sounds and Sights of the Dentist’s Office: Oral conscious sedation can be recommended the night before a procedure so you are in a relaxed state of mind when you arrive at the dentist’s office.
- Choking and Gagging: Sedation causes you to feel at ease when the dentist is working in your mouth, so you won’t feel the urge to choke or gag.
- Risk of Panic Attack, Shaking Uncontrollably or Crying: Oral sedation the night before can help eliminate anxiety.
- Having Trouble Sitting Still for Long Periods: Sedation can be used to address restlessness.
If you or a loved one commonly experience feelings of nervousness or anxiety during dental appointments, please let us know before your appointment so we can understand your concerns and identify how to address them using sedation dentistry or other means.