Dental Anxiety and Sedation

dental anxiety and sedation

Millions of people suffer from dental anxiety, and in many cases, it keeps individuals from getting the dental care they need. While advancements in technology have made dental procedures safer and more comfortable than ever, dental fears continue to be very common.

A variety of different dental fears can drive dental anxiety, such as:

  • Fear of injections
  • Fear of being embarrassed about the condition of your teeth
  • Fear of dental pain
  • Fear of gagging
  • Fear of Novocain not numbing the mouth
  • Fear of the dentist
  • Fear of losing control
  • Fear of drills and other dental equipment

Unfortunately, for some people, the fear and anxiety can be nearly overwhelming, making even routine checkups and cleanings a problem. It’s important to make sure you get routine dental care, so it’s important to find ways to deal with dental anxiety.

Tips for Reducing Dental Anxiety

What can you do to reduce dental anxiety so you can get the dental care you need? Here are a few tips that may help reduce your anxiety.

  • Tip #1 – Talk to Your Dentist About Anxiety – Your dentist may never know you deal with dental anxiety unless you know him. Even if you feel self-conscious about revealing your fears, talking to the dentist can be a huge help. Your dentist can offer some reassurance and can also take precautions to help you feel more relaxed during treatment.
  • Tip #2 – Have a Signal – If you’re worried your dentist won’t know you’re in severe pain or that you can’t take anymore, come up with a signal you can use to let your dentist know so the procedure can stop if necessary.
  • Tip #3 – Try Distractions – Relaxing muscle players or watching DVDs during treatment can take your mind off the work being done. Many dental offices even make music players or DVD players available to patients during office visits.
  • Tip #4 – Consider Sedation Dentistry – If you have a difficult time staying calm in the dentist’s chair, talk to your dentist about sedation dentistry. Many people dealing with dental anxiety find that sedation makes routine visits and dental procedures easier to cope with.

What is Sedation Dentistry?

Sedation dentistry makes use of medications to help patients relax during a dental procedure. There are several different levels of sedation, including:

  • Mild Sedation – you’re awake but completely relaxed
  • Conscious Sedation – you probably won’t remember the procedure and you may be slurring words when talking
  • Deep Sedation – you’re right on the edge of being unconscious, but you can be wakened
  • General Anesthesia – you’re unconscious

Various types of sedation can be used, such as:

  • Oral Sedation – This type of sedation involves taking a pill such as Valium, Ativan, Versed, or Halcion. It makes you very drowsy, but you’ll stay awake. In some cases, you may fall asleep because you’re so drowsy.
  • Inhaled Sedation – Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, can be inhaled to help you relax, and this gas wears off very quickly.
  • IV Sedation – Medications are delivered through a vein to sedate you, and levels can be continually adjusted by your dentist.
  • General Anesthesia and Deep Sedation – Medications are given that make you unconscious or nearly unconscious for your procedure.

Whatever type of sedative is used, you should be accompanied by a responsible adult to the office. This way you have someone to drive you home after your appointment.

Some of the benefits sedation dentistry offers include:

  • You usually feel no pain
  • There are few side effects to worry about
  • Even long procedures won’t seem as long when you’re sedated
  • Your anxiety will be alleviated
  • More can be accomplished during dental visits
  • Sedation is completely safe

Who Can Benefit From Sedation Dentistry?

While sedation dentistry is very helpful for individuals who experience severe dental anxiety when visiting the dentist’s office, it can also be appropriate for other individuals. Patients who have a very low pain threshold may benefit from this option, as can patients who have sensitive teeth. If you have problems sitting still while in the dentist’s chair or you have a touchy gag reflex, sedation may prove helpful. It’s also a great option for people who need to have a lot of dental work done at one time.

Sedation dentistry is very safe, and it’s an excellent way to reduce anxiety while still making sure you take care of your pearly whites. If you’re tired of feeling anxious each time you visit the dentist, ask your dentist about sedation dentistry today.