A routine trip to the dentist has caused higher levels of anxiety in patients than a routine physical check-up at the doctor’s office. It is estimated that 75% of U.S. adults experience some degree of dental fear and approximately 5-10% of those adults will avoid going to the dentist at all costs.
Sedation dentistry can be quite a relief for those who are nervous about procedures like oral surgery, root canals, or wisdom teeth extractions to even the simplest treatments, like fillings or cleanings. Using pharmacological agents that calm and relax you, sedation dentistry can make any trip to the dentist painless and worry-free.
Who Needs Sedation Dentistry?
Sedation dentistry is not for everyone. While it helps many people overcome their fears of undergoing dental procedures, for some it may hinder their ability to be in control of their procedure.
Those Who Benefit Most From Sedation:
- Don’t want to be aware of what’s happening during a procedure, perhaps even the slightest bit of pressure causes anxiety and amplifies the mental awareness of pain.
- Just want to relax a little bit more – in these cases nitrous oxide, or laughing gas is the sedation of choice
- Have fears of specific aspects of procedures like needles, extractions, shaping, or surgical incisions, regardless of how instructive and empathetic the dentist can be
- Wish to undergo the fastest form of the procedure and want sedation to give their dentist the freedom to work without worrying about the comfort of the patient
- Are patients who are undergoing more unpleasant procedures perhaps due to the complications of their specific situation
Patients May Not Want To Undergo Sedation If:
- They are more comfortable when more involved in their procedures, for example using stop signals when they feel a little pain in spite of anesthetics
- There is a history of bad reactions to drugs used for sedation
- They are worried that sedation may get in the way of their ability to communicate concerns to their dentist.
Types of Sedation
Depending on the severity of the anxiety about any given dental procedure, different forms of medication can be used (sometimes together) to sedate a patient. The levels of sedation range from minimal (awake but relaxed) to general anesthesia (completely unconscious).
At Sunrise Family Dentistry we offer different levels of oral sedation, or “Sleep Dentistry” in the form of anti-anxiety pills or nitrous oxide. In certain cases the two can be combined for maximum effect.
- Oral Sedation – In higher doses, these anti-anxiety pills can cause a sense of relaxation so effective it can put you to sleep. They are taken orally with water hours before any major procedure. Oral sedation can prevent anxiety and induce a state resembling physiological sleep.
- Nitrous Oxide – N20 ingestion is as easy as breathing, literally. The gas is administered through a face mask and after a few breaths a pleasurable sense of relaxation is felt throughout the body, sometimes coupled with a few giggles. Aside from quelling most anxiety, nitrous oxide also effectively alleviates pain. Nitrous Oxide alone can be enough to effectively sedate a patient while keeping them awake and conscious.
Typically, nitrous oxide is far more common than oral sedation, but the doctor may combine the two for more complicated procedures, or in cases of high-anxiety.