For many people, the dentist can trigger a sense of dread. In fact, this anxiety can be so severe that people even avoid the dentist entirely—according to WebMD, somewhere between 9% and 20% of people in the United States have cited fear as a reason for skipping a dental visit. However, avoiding the dentist just creates more problems.
Regular cleanings help prevent problems from developing. And if you already have a dental issue, ignoring the problem will only make it worse. But how do you bring yourself to go to the dentist if you have dental anxiety? The answer lies in sedation dentistry—a type of dentistry that renders you totally relaxed or even completely unconscious while your dental procedures take place.
More Effective Than Other Anxiety-Management Techniques
If you suffer from dental anxiety, you may have tried various tips and tricks for reducing your fear: listening to music, meditating, talking things through with the dentist, etc. But these are not guaranteed to make you feel better. In the end, all of those techniques don’t actually prevent you from having to face your fears.
Sedation dentistry, on the other hand, allows you to experience all the benefits of visiting the dentist without actually having to face your fears head on. Instead, sedation techniques will allow you to sleep peacefully through all of those scary parts of the dentist that had you worried in the first place. And if you don’t have to experience them, you don’t have to be afraid.
From Relaxation to Total Unconsciousness
Sedation dentists have a variety of different sedative options to suit patients everywhere on the spectrum of dental anxiety. These options range from nitrous oxide to general anesthesia. Depending on your level of anxiety, your sedation dentist can tailor the sedation method to suit you best.
Nitrous oxide and oral sedation are best for people with mild to moderate dental anxiety. Both of these types of sedation will relax you during the procedure, but you’ll remain awake. For patients with more severe dental anxiety, IV sedation and general anesthesia are both good options to consider. Both will render you unconscious, and you will feel no pain and have no memory of the procedure after its completion. You’ll simply wake up after what feels like a few minutes, as if it were a nap.
A Safe Way to Feel Relaxed
Some patients may be worried about the safety of various sedatives, but sedation dentistry is just as safe as any other medical procedure, no matter what its intensity. According to the Oral Health Foundation, inhalation sedation (usually a mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen) is a very safe way to relax yourself during dental procedures. With this form of oral sedation, you remain conscious, but you won’t feel any discomfort during the procedure.
If you do require a more intense form of sedation, working with a certified anesthesiologist will ensure that your procedure goes safely and smoothly. The American Dental Association notes that when administered properly, sedation is both safe and effective for dental patients. Just be sure there is a board-certified anesthesiologist that works with your dentist, and you have nothing to worry about.
If you suffer from dental anxiety, whether it’s mild or severe, sedation dentistry could be the option that turns things around. Even if you’re not sure, it certainly can’t hurt to consult your local sedation dentist. Who knows? You may find that sedation is the answer to all of your dental fears.