Recent surveys show that about 36% of Americans suffer from dental fear or anxiety, while around 12% of the population battles severe or debilitating dental anxiety. Unfortunately, this fear often leads to avoidance of the dentist, which then results in poor dental hygiene. Poor dental hygiene can cause overall poor physical health, embarrassment or shame, and even directly affect your mental well-being. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Sedation dentistry is a safe option to help you relax when undergoing dental procedures. Once relaxed, dental fears shouldn’t impact your ability to receive quality dental care from our team of caring dental professionals so you can avoid the complications of poor dental hygiene.
What Is Sedation Dentistry?
Sedation dentistry is a process that allows patients to feel calm and relaxed while getting dental work done. Moderate sedation methods are most commonly used, so patients are still technically awake. However, the sedation helps to calm nerves, block pain receptors, and overall make the process a more pleasant experience.
Although patients with dental fears are those who can benefit most from sedation dentistry, they aren’t the only ones. Patients who have an intense gag reflux, feel embarrassed about their oral hygiene condition, or have difficulty controlling their movements can also benefit. Other examples of patients who might choose sedation dentistry include those with special needs, extreme teeth sensitivity, or a fear of needles.
What Types of Sedation Dentistry Are Available?
There are several sedation dentistry options available. Your dentist will discuss your options with you ahead of time to find the best solution for your unique situation. The most common examples of sedation dentistry types you may be able to choose from include:
- Nitrous oxide (laughing gas): This sedation option is inhaled through a mask and provides mild analgesic properties. Nitrous oxide helps patients feel calmer and reduces any potential pain during dental procedures. The best part of laughing gas is that the effects dissipate rapidly so that most patients can drive themselves home after only a short recovery in the dental office.
- Oral sedation: With oral sedation, patients take a prescribed medication shortly before their appointments to help calm their nerves. The type of medication varies based on a person’s medical history, the dental team’s recommendations and the level of anxiety felt. If a patient is using oral sedation, they should have a support person to drive them to and from their appointment as they won’t be able to drive a car after taking the medication.
- IV sedation: Patients will have an IV placed with this option, allowing a qualified team member to deliver the medicine during the appointment. IV sedation is a little heavier than oral sedation, and the patient will be monitored throughout the procedure. Patients will need to arrange for a support person to drive them home after the procedure, as IV sedation can take a few hours to leave the system entirely.
- General anesthesia: General anesthesia isn’t often used in dentistry, but it can be an option for those who need complete sedation. With general anesthesia, patients are given medications orally or through an IV that puts them entirely to sleep. This option is usually done in a hospital and does require a longer recovery time, usually of a few hours, before patients can leave the hospital or operate vehicles.
The Benefits of Sedation Dentistry
There are several benefits to choosing sedation dentistry, including reducing anxiety and decreasing discomfort. In some situations, sedation dentistry can also improve dental work results.
Patients who are sedated will feel calmer and happier while having their dental work done. This can be especially important for people who suffer from dental anxiety since they’re most likely to experience severe anxiety levels before, during, and after their appointments. By creating a calmer mood and blocking many (or all) anxiety symptoms, sedation dentistry allows for a more pleasant appointment, regardless of preexisting fears, anxieties, or conditions.
Dental procedures aren’t always short or comfortable. Dental procedures can be lengthy in many cases because several steps must be completed to ensure you have the best oral hygiene possible. These procedures can also be painful because, in many instances, dental work is done to relieve pain from chipped or broken teeth, sensitive teeth, abscesses, or gum disease.
The anticipation of pain can cause patients to tense up their muscles, which, in turn, can make things more painful. Sedation dentistry allows your body and mind to relax, subsequently decreasing discomfort for the duration of the procedure.
Improve the Results of Dental Work
Discomfort, anxiety, and certain preexisting conditions can cause the patient to squirm or even attempt to resist the dentist when they begin to work. Reducing anxiety and discomfort allows patients to be still and calm, which can improve the results of dental work. It also allows the dentist to take the time they need instead of feeling rushed, enhancing the quality of dental work.
Potential Risks and Complications of Sedation Dentistry
Sedation dentistry is generally safe when administered by a qualified professional. However, all medical procedures carry a small risk of complications. A few possible risks and complications of sedation dentistry include:
- Lingering drowsiness
- Allergic reactions to the medication administered
- Bruising at the IV injection site
- Digestive issues (including vomiting)
- Headaches (that should go away within a few hours)
- Dry mouth
- Irritability or an otherwise altered mood
- Low-grade fever (which should be short-lived and is most common in children)
Contact Us Today for More Information
If you need dental work done around Independence, MO but suffer from mild to severe dental fears and anxieties, you can call someone of our team today about your sedation dentistry options. Already ready to make an appointment? You can submit a request for an appointment using our online form if you prefer.