Fear and anxiety are common issues associated with dental treatment. A bad experience with a previous dentist can have you avoiding routine dental check-ups. A fear of needles, or the simple fact the mouth is a very personal area, could be keeping you from receiving necessary dental treatment important to your overall health.
The Dental Fear Factor
There is no shame in having dental fear or anxiety. You are not alone in your dread. There are a lot of you! It is important to talk about and recognize my patients’ fears in a rational and tangible manner. Dentistry has come a long way in a short amount of time. Advances have been made making treatments easier, faster and painless. But at the end of the day, being asked to sit back and open wide while I poke and prod is awkward and intrusive. It is key to make this process as painless and comfortable as possible.
I offer oral sedation dentistry medication, also know as “conscious” sedation. Oral sedation provides a more relaxed and anxiety-free dental treatment experience. Patients with dental-phobia can receive the dental care they need while avoiding the fear and anxiety associated with their treatment. Sedation is utilized to provide a relaxed, easy and calm state.
Some forms of sedation, such as nitrous oxide gas, can help raise your threshold for pain. However, most dental procedures still require local anesthetic to
temporarily block pain impulses from affected teeth and gum tissue. However, with oral sedation, the injection is given after you are already sedated and comfortable. Ideally, you will not be bothered by or remember the sensation of the injection.
An additional benefit of sedation dentistry is that patients often feel their dental procedure lasted only a few minutes. When in reality, it has taken far longer to complete treatment. Therefore, complex dental procedures such as smile makeovers and full mouth restorations are more tolerable.
Oral sedation is currently the most common technique used to control patient fear. The medications can create such a comfortable experience that some patients do not remember the visit. However, oral sedation does maintain a level of consciousness in the patient for safety and cooperation. You will not be physically asleep.
Medications used in conscious sedation include: Halcion, Xanax, Valium, or Ativan. The medication is taken prior to your appointment, and it is important to have a responsible caregiver accompany you to the procedure. A caregiver is also necessary to drive you home after the procedure is completed, and stay with you for an additional two to four hours.
Most patients only require being sedated for one or two treatment appointments. After they experience a pain free dental visit or two, that is all they need to get over their fear and anxiety. Additionally, they no longer have the inconvenience of coordinating with a driver to and from their appointments.