How Sedation Dentistry Can Cure Dental Anxiety 

We understand—visiting the dentist can be anxiety-inducing. Many people fear the discomfort, pain, or even just the awkwardness of a dental appointment. In fact, 36% of the population has dental anxiety, with some fearing it so much that they are counted as having an official phobia! Clearly, dentists have a problem on their hands in determining how to help patients cope with understandable fear while also caring for their dental health. That’s where sedation dentistry comes in. If you are someone who struggles with feelings of anxiety or panic when it comes to seeing the dentist, sedation dentistry may be just the tool you need.

The Technology

Sedation dentistry comes in three different forms: minimal, moderate, and deep. You may have heard this practice referred to as “sleep dentistry” or “twilight sleep” before. The key difference between sedation dentistry and general anesthesia is that when under general anesthesia, a patient is completely unconscious. In each of these three forms, the patient retains some level of consciousness. Here, we will examine sedation dentistry in each of its forms so that we can ultimately see how sedation dentistry could help those struggling with dental anxiety.

Minimal Sedation

Minimal sedation is just what you would expect: patients are still aware of their surroundings and able to respond, but the sedatives put them in a relaxed state. Dentists often use nitrous oxide, otherwise known as laughing gas, at this stage. Patients might receive this through a mask, and the effects will wear off very quickly once the procedure or cleaning is over.

Moderate Sedation

Moderate sedation requires drugs such as Valium or Versed. These are often administered through shot or pill format, and when they have taken effect, the patient will be semi-unresponsive. They will still be able to interact with their surroundings, but will be very groggy, and the dentist may need to prompt them to do so.

Deep Sedation

Deep sedation, as you would expect, puts the patient closest to unconsciousness. Yet, even when undergoing deep sedation, the patient will be able to be awakened. These sedatives are often administered through IV. Afterwards, the patient may not remember the procedure at all. The effects of deep sedation naturally take the longest to wear off; patients will usually need to take the day off work and avoid operating any heavy machinery for at least a day after their treatment.

The Benefits

Sedation dentistry is a wonderful tool for those who experience anxiety surrounding dental procedures. It is sometimes required for longer or more complex procedures like a root canal, but still may be available upon request for more minor needs—even a routine cleaning. Not only does it put the patient at ease, it may even allow the dentist to work more quickly.

You might want to consider asking your dentist about sedation dentistry if you have:

· Dental anxiety

· A fear of needles

· Previous traumatic experience at the dentist’s

· Cognitive or behavioral special needs

· An overly active gag reflex

· Inability to handle noises or smells at the dentist’s office

· Difficulty controlling your movements

· Overly sensitive teeth

· Intense feelings of claustrophobia while in the dentist’s chair

Final Thoughts

As you might expect, there are some side effects involved in sedation dentistry. Patients may experience lingering grogginess, dizziness, headaches, or even nausea and vomiting. In rare cases, patients have had allergic reactions to the drugs administered. However, these effects wear off, and sedation dentistry is considered a safe and helpful practice. If it is deemed medically necessary for your procedure, your insurance will likely cover it. If not, your insurance may cover part or none of the expense. Your dentist can provide the specifics of the costs and payment plans available to you.

Thanks to modern medicine, going to the dentist doesn’t have to be quite so uncomfortable or scary. If you are prone to dental anxiety and have questions about sedation dentistry or would like to schedule your next appointment, you can contact our office today.

About Our Team

Our team of dental experts has well over 30 years of combined experience in the field of dentistry. To learn more about them, please visit the team pages for HephzibahWashington Road, Summerville, and Medical District locations. 

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