Dental Anxiety? How Minimal Conscious Sedation Can Help

 In Dental Hygiene

You are far from alone if you suffer from dental anxiety. In fact, according to the American Dental Association (ADA), approximately 15 percent of Americans share the same deep fear of going to the dentist. When dental anxiety is severe enough, it can keep people from visiting the dentist even for routine cleanings and check-ups. Unfortunately, this can lead to a rapid decline in oral health and the need for additional treatment that can make the anxiety worse.

At Providence Dentistry, we understand and want to help. After all, you’re not the first patient whose dental anxiety has kept them from receiving the treatment they need, and you won’t be the last. Our goal is to find ways to make visiting the dentist less stressful for you, including discussing options for sedation dentistry.

What is Conscious Sedation Dentistry?

The term sedation dentistry means that your dental team provides you with medication to help you relax during your appointment. As the name implies, you remain awake and aware of your surroundings the entire time. The level of sedation you receive can range from mild to deep.

Options for Conscious Sedation Dentistry

Most people have heard the term laughing gas, which is another term for nitrous oxide. It is one of the mildest forms of conscious sedation dentistry. If you opt for nitrous oxide, your dentist will place a lightweight mask over your nose. You will then breathe in the medication inside of the mask and start to feel a deep sense of relaxation almost right away. Since the effect of the medication wears off quickly, you can drive yourself home after the appointment without having to arrange for alternate transportation. Although you may feel a little sleepy, you can still cooperate with the dentist and respond to questions.

Taking an oral sedative is another option to achieve a mild to moderate level of relaxation during your dental appointment. This requires you to take a pill approximately one hour before the start of your dental appointment. Halcion, which belongs to the same drug classification as Valium, is the most common drug used for sedation dentistry purposes. You will feel drowsy and may even nod off for several seconds at a time. However, it’s easy for anyone to wake you with just a tap on the shoulder. Because of the grogginess the drug produces, you will need to ask someone to pick you up from your appointment rather than drive home yourself.

Intravenous sedation produces the strongest level of sedation where the patient remains awake. Your dentist first locates a vein to insert the intravenous needle and then administers the sedative medication through the IV tube. You will also need to arrange for a ride home with this type of sedation.

No matter which type of sedation you receive, your dentist will begin the procedure by numbing the area of your mouth requiring treatment with a local anesthetic. This is to ensure that you remain comfortable and don’t experience any pain while your dentist completes the work.

Are You a Good Candidate for Sedation Dentistry?

Sedation dentistry can be a good option if you have had a poor dental experience in the past or you need a large amount of dental work completed. People with a low pain threshold, high gag reflex, or who have difficulty sitting still can benefit from sedation as well. We trust you to know your own tolerance level and will honor your request for sedation dentistry whenever possible.

Please contact our Charlotte dental practice to request an appointment or to learn more about our sedation dentistry options.

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