Many people experience dental anxiety. In fact, dental fear is cited as the number one reason why people avoid seeing the dentist. It is estimated that as many as 75% of US adults experience some degree of dental fear, from mild to severe. At the extreme, a person who experiences dental phobia may never see the dentist. Others may force themselves to go, but the visit is clouded in anxiety.
People who are fearful of dental care often fall into a “cycle of avoidance,” in which they avoid care until a dental emergency requiring invasive treatment occurs. This, in turn, reinforces their fear of dentistry. But it doesn’t have to be this way. New treatment options are available for people who experience any level of dental anxiety.
We understand that dental anxiety is most likely formed by direct experience. If you suffer from a dental condition like TMJ Disorder, your anxiety may be especially high. So, it’s important to find the right dentist.
Our goal is to help patients relax during their visit by discussing their fears in a non-clinical environment prior to any procedure. Before coming in, try these seven tips for calming your dental anxiety.
Our friendly staff is also trained to administer the latest options in sedation dentistry, including:
As dental professionals, we know how to help you overcome dental anxiety using a combination of behavioral strategies and pharmacological techniques. So put your fears to rest, we’ve got you covered!
One common anxiety-reducing medication used in dentistry is nitrous oxide (also known as “laughing gas”), which is inhaled through a small mask worn on the nose and causes feelings of relaxation and dissociation. The use of nitrous oxide has successfully helped many anxious patients relax.
Nitrous oxide is just one option your dentist may offer to help make you more comfortable during certain procedures, but it’s not intended to put you to sleep. You’ll still be able to hear and respond to direct request or directions, but don’t expect to be fully lucid. While inhaling nitrous oxide, you may experience a range of feelings from a heightened sense of relaxation to a full-body euphoria. However, every patient reacts a bit different to inhalation sedation.
That being said, we are able to adjust the level of medication to reach an optimal point of relaxation for each patient, and the effects of the gas tend to wear off quickly. Many patients are able to drive themselves home after procedures using nitrous oxide as sedation.
A common method to reduce fear and anxiety related to visiting the dentist is the use of oral sedation in the form of pills. Anti-anxiety medication such as Valium and Halcion bind with the receptors in your brain that are responsible for fear to help you remain calm. Depending on the dosage and type of medication, you’ll feel a sense of calm, drowsiness, minor amnesia, and tingling sensations.
While these sedatives may help you feel calmer and sometimes drowsy during dental treatment, you’ll still be conscious and able to communicate with the dental staff. Due to the lasting effects of oral sedation, you’ll need someone to drive you home after the appointment.
Intravenous (IV) sedation is administered directly into a patient’s arm or hand. It’s often referred to as “conscious sedation” as opposed to general anesthesia. With IV sedation, patients breathe on their own while their breathing and heart rate are monitored and are still responsive to a dentist’s prompts. Under a general anesthetic, patients are more deeply sedated, need assistance breathing, and are not responsive to verbal or physical prompts.
During the process of IV Sedation, a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) administers and monitors intravenous anesthesia throughout your procedure. This allows our dental team to focus on your treatment while you feel deeply relaxed and comfortable. IV sedation with a CRNA is more predictable than oral sedation dentistry.
Just like with oral sedation, you’ll need to have a driver ready to escort you home after the procedure as well as to monitor you, as some effects of the medication may linger for the remainder of the day.
For some patients, the use of sedation dentistry is the only way that they can get the dental care they need and improve their dental health.
The benefits of Sedation Dentistry include:
Gentle Dental Care – We care about your comfort!
At Boger Dental, we are trained to be sensitive to dental phobias and we will do all that we can to make your experience comfortable, both physically and emotionally. With sedation options, we can help you through your dental appointment with little to no anxiety. We want you to rest easy, knowing that we always do our best to make sure you’re comfortable.
If you’re considering sedation, here is what you can expect before, during, and after your procedure.1. Consultation
If you’re considering sedation dentistry, the first step is scheduling a consultation with your dentist’s office.
They’ll listen to your wants and needs, and look at your medical records to help determine if sedation is right for you. Remember, you may not be a candidate for dental sedation if you suffer from complications including use of certain medications, obstructive sleep apnea, heart conditions, or weight conditions.
If you are a candidate for sedation, your dentist’s office will help you determine the type of sedation that’s right for you.
When you arrive for your appointment, it’s normal to be a little nervous. At Boger Dental, we are trained to be sensitive to dental phobias and we will do all that we can to make your experience comfortable for you, both emotionally as well as physically.
If you’ve chosen laughing gas (inhalation sedation), the effects will wear off within minutes of the end of your procedure. You will be able to drive yourself home.
If you’ve chosen oral or IV sedation, you will wake up in our recovery room. Since oral and IV sedatives take a longer period to wear off, you will need someone else to drive you home.
Once you’re home, relax! Your body needs time to recover after oral surgery. Sometimes, you’ll need to eat a soft diet or avoid certain foods for a few weeks. Talk to your dentist if you have questions about your unique situation.
As with any sedation procedure, there are always some risks involved. However, these risks can be minimized by an experienced dentist who has the proper education, certification, and permits to use sedation as a part of their practice. When proper steps are taken, sedation dentistry is considered safe to use even for children.
Not everyone is a candidate for dental sedation. Risks that could lead to complications include certain medications, obstructive sleep apnea, heart conditions, or weight. At your consultation, your dentist will help you determine whether sedation is right for you.
Proper Sedation Procedures
Dental staff will monitor your health and well-being throughout your treatment. They’ll also help you prepare for what to expect after your treatment is complete, including if you’ll need to plan for a ride home, and if you’ll need to make changes to your diet during your recovery.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions about sedation dentistry. You can ask about the dosage of the sedative being used, about the training and experience of the dentist and support staff, and any questions you have about what to expect.
Bottom Line on Sedation Dentistry
Sedation dentistry is a safe way to help you relax during dental treatments. There are some risks involved, but they can be minimized by following the proper steps. Today, dental sedation is considered safe even for children.
Is sedation dentistry right for you? Here are three common times when it may be a good choice. Want to learn more about your sedation options? Contact Boger Dental to schedule your consultation today.