Along with public speaking, spiders, and heights, visiting the dentist is one of the most common fears among Americans. Many of these anxieties stem from a perpetuated idea that going to the dentist is always uncomfortable and that patients always receive bad news.
Most dentists work hard to undo that way of thinking by providing a comfortable, safe, and welcoming environment for patients. However, sometimes that just isn’t enough.
Some people experience dental fear and anxiety for other reasons, such as:
· A traumatic experience in the past
· Loss of control
· Fear of needles
· Breathing problems
· Sensory overload
Whether your fear is on this list or not, we don’t want to discount these feelings.
It’s important to communicate with your dentist exactly what makes you feel stressed, anxious, or fearful. He will work with you to help relieve those feelings by communicating what he is doing, creating hand signals, or offering your sedation dentistry.
Continue reading to learn about the different types of sedation dentistry and how it could benefit you.
Types of Sedation Dentistry
1. Oral sedation
Patients with mild to moderate dental fear or anxiety and who are undergoing a minimally painful procedure are the best candidates for oral sedation. This is an oral medication that is taken half an hour before treatment. While it does reduce fear and anxiety for the patient, it does not put them to sleep or eliminate the pain of the procedure. It will, however, produce a feeling of relaxation and make them feel like they don’t really care about the pain.
To aid in pain relief, the dentist can use a local anesthetic that numbs the affected area. Instead of feeling pain, the patient will only experience pressure, tugging, or pulling. With the help of oral sedation, even these sensations won’t bother you.
If this type of sedation dentistry is the right choice for you, please remember to have someone drive you to and from your dental appointment.
2. Nitrous Oxide
More commonly called laughing gas, nitrous oxide is a great choice for patients with dental fear and anxiety who are undergoing a procedure that may be moderately painful. It can also be used for children who have a difficult time sitting still during their dental appointment.
This type of sedation is administered by the dentist in the dentist’s office. He places a mask over the patient’s nose, and they inhale a colorless, odorless gas that most times makes the patient giggle—hence the name. These effects last as long as the patient inhales the gas.
Nitrous oxide does not put the patient to sleep, but it does put them in a dreamlike state, so they are comfortable and carefree throughout the procedure.
Once the procedure is complete, the dentist administers 100 percent oxygen to remove the gas from the patient’s system. The patient is safe to drive themselves to and from the dentist’s office.
3. IV Sedation
IV (intravenous) sedation is the use of an IV to administer safe and effective medications to sedate the patient from a moderate to a deep level. This is helpful for patients with severe dental fear and anxiety or for those who are undergoing long and complex procedures like oral surgery.
The dental team continuously monitors the patients throughout the procedure. Based on the patient’s needs, the dental team can administer more medication to reduce discomfort or restore alertness to the patient.
In many cases, the patient doesn’t even remember the procedure once they wake up. This is a huge benefit for those with anxiety and fear because it eliminates the possibility of trauma and negative feelings towards the dentist. In fact, the patient may begin to see visiting the dentist in a completely different light!
Patients are required to fast from eating and drinking for at least eight hours before their dental procedure when IV sedation is used. Once the procedure is complete, the medication won’t wear off like the nitrous oxide does, so patients must bring a friend or family member to drive them home. We also recommend that the patient always has someone with them for the 24 hours after the procedure.
Benefits of Sedation Dentistry
Besides easing fear and anxiety, sedation dentistry offers these three benefits:
This is a benefit for both the patient and the dentist when a patient struggles with a gag reflex or has sensitive teeth and gums. An oral sedative and nitrous oxide can address these psychological and physiological responses, so the patient feels much less stressed, his muscles are relaxed, and he doesn’t feel any pain. This helps the dentist because he can focus solely on the procedure without the fear of making the patient more stressed or uncomfortable.
Provides Comfort and Rest
Wouldn’t it be nice to leave the dentist feeling relaxed and rested rather than stressed and tense? That’s what sedation dentistry does for patients who suffer from dental fear and anxiety. Patients often enjoy the calming effects of the sedation and view it as a break from their busy lives.
It’s amazing how much a dentist can accomplish in such a short amount of time when a patient is relaxed and calm. Whether you need a dental extraction, cavity filled, gum disease treatments, a cosmetic procedure, or a combination of multiple treatments, the dentist may be able to complete the entire process in just one visit.
This is especially beneficial for patients who are undergoing more extensive procedures that require multiple visits because the dentist can complete the entire treatment in one!
Choosing a Sedation Dentist
In order to experience all of these benefits, it’s imperative that you choose a dentist with the qualifications to provide sedation dentistry. While many dentists may offer these sedation dentistry options, they don’t all complete the appropriate amount of training to be able to provide safe and effective sedation.
Dr. Karl Jobst at Grand Lake Dental has the skill and training necessary to provide these services. He completed a post-graduate program in anesthesiology so patients can trust that he knows what he is doing. Additionally, he prioritizes patient comfort. The goal is to help patients enjoy their dental experience even without dental sedation.
At our dental practice, our entire dental team works together to make everyone who walks through our doors feels welcome and cared for. We will never shame or judge a patient who suffers from dental fear or anxiety.
If you’re interested in learning which type of sedation is right for your level of anxiety or for your type of procedure, call our Grove, OK dental practice today at (918) 787-5800 to schedule your appointment.