While going to the dentist may seem like a routine task for many adults, for some, it’s an anxiety-inducing event that prevents them from getting the treatment they need. It’s estimated that up to 40 million Americans suffer from some form of dental anxiety or dental phobia. Fortunately, sedation dentistry is available at most dental practices to help relieve your fear and anxiety and allow you to get the professional treatment you need for your smile. What are the most effective sedation dentistry methods to help you relax while at the dentist?
Nitrous Oxide: Minimal Sedation
You may know this gas by its more common name, laughing gas. This is the lightest level of sedation and the only one in which you should be able to drive home after your appointment. Nitrous oxide is mixed with oxygen and inhaled through a mask that your dentist puts on your nose. As nitrous oxide has a short-term effect, you’ll feel relatively normal soon after the procedure.
Oral Sedation: From Mild to Moderate
Oral sedation is totally customizable—you and your dentist can discuss which level of sedation would be best to help relieve your dental anxiety. For this type of sedation, you’ll usually swallow a pill about an hour or so before your dental procedure. While you may become drowsy, you will still be awake and be able to respond. This is one of the most common sedation dentistry methods used as the dose can be adjusted for mild to moderate sedation.
IV Sedation: Moderate Sedation
For IV sedation, you’ll receive your sedation through an IV. This will allow the drug to quickly relax you before your procedure. This is not the same as general anesthesia, in which you would be totally unconscious during the procedure. During an IV sedation, you are still partially awake and able to respond to commands or stimuli. This is for people who don’t respond well to oral sedation or would like a quicker method of relaxation rather than waiting for a medication to work.
General Anesthesia: Deep Sedation
General anesthesia is the deepest level of sedation in which you will be totally unconscious during the dental procedure. You will not be able to respond to commands or be roused from your state. General anesthesia requires that your breathing and heart rate be monitored, as this deep level of sedation affects these most basic functions. This form of sedation may be used if you need a lot of dental work, cannot relax even with the other methods of sedation, or if you need oral surgery.
Sedation dentistry makes going to the dentist easier for people who suffer from dental anxiety. It can enable patients who haven’t been to the dentist in years to get the much needed treatment they need without the fear and anxiety of pain. It’s important to find a dentist who’s experienced in sedation dentistry and understands your fears and concerns. Find a local dentist who can offer sedation dentistry to relieve your dental anxiety so that you can enjoy your smile again!
Image courtesy of stockimages at freedigitalimages.net