It’s not uncommon for people to feel anxiety about having dental procedures done. Dental anxiety is a common problem that affects many people. Some studies have indicated that 50 to 80% of American adults have some form of dental anxiety, with as much as 20% being high anxiety. This can lead to people avoiding routine preventative care or early treatment of problems. One way to work around this anxiety is with sedation dentistry. Let’s take a look at how it can be helpful.
What is Sedation Dentistry
Simply put, sedation dentistry is the use of sedative medication to calm and relax a patient prior to and during a dental procedure. Unlike general anesthesia, where you are not conscious, sedation dentistry places you at a moderate level of consciousness. You are still awake but calm and at ease. This is sometimes referred to as “twilight sleep”. This allows you to be insensitive to pain without the loss of consciousness. Depending on the method used, there is often a short-term amnesia that allows you to not even remember the procedure.
Types of Sedation
Here at Cape Dental Care, we use two types of sedation: Nitrous Oxide and IV Sedation.
Nitrous oxide, often called ‘laughing gas’, is the method we use most often. This method is available for use in all of our treatment rooms and can be used easily. To use it, a nose mask that provides both oxygen and nitrous oxide gas throughout your appointment, allowing you to relax and be anxiety free. One of the advantages of choosing nitrous oxide is that the effects wear off quickly, usually within 10 minutes. This means that after a brief wait, you can drive yourself home, rather than needing someone to drive you home.
IV Sedation is the other method we use, and it is our most popular. The method involves administering a combination of two sedatives through an IV that helps you “feel” like you are asleep, though you will be able to respond to questions and commands throughout the procedure. Because you are so relaxed and comfortable, this method is ideal for more complex or lengthy treatments. If you do use IV Sedation, you will need to have someone drive you home. We care about your safety and will always advise that you not use a taxi or ride-share service. The person bringing you home should be someone you know and trust to walk you into your home and make you safe and comfortable before leaving you.
Special licensing is required to administer IV sedation. Dr. Phillip Kraver has completed a postgraduate residency that extensively trained him in the use of IV sedation and has the required licensing.
Sedation Dentistry can be ideal for patients with special needs. Those with special physical needs that make dental procedures difficult will benefit from sedation dentistry. Those with behavioral or cognitive disabilities may also find this method both less stressful and more efficient than using regular local anesthesia.
One of the main advantages of sedation dentistry is that it can reduce anxiety and fear associated with dental procedures. Patients who are anxious or fearful about dental treatments can benefit from sedation, which helps them feel more relaxed and at ease during the procedure.
Another advantage is found in efficiency. When a patient is sedated, the dentist can perform procedures easier. This is especially helpful for complex or lengthy procedures like extractions or root canals. You don’t feel the pain (or hear the sounds) of the process and the dentist can get you out of the chair quicker and start the healing process even faster. It can even lead to fewer appointments if procedures can be done together.
Of course, the biggest advantage is feeling less pain. That pain is often the cause of our anxiety in the first place. The use of sedation can make the procedure virtually pain-free. Sedation dentistry is a safe and effective way to manage dental anxiety and phobia.
One last advantage is physical comfort. Sometimes being in certain positions, even for short periods of time, can be uncomfortable for some patients because of physical limitations. And having your mouth held open during lengthy procedures is sometimes difficult. Sedation dentistry alleviates these issues.
If you are one of those who feel anxiety about dental procedures or may even be putting off treatment because of it, talk to one of our dentists about sedation dentistry. You can learn more about it on our website or by contacting us with specific questions. We want to make your visits the best possible experience we can.