One of the most commonly dramatized fears portrayed in sitcoms and movies is the fear of the dentist. While most people don’t suffer from the paralyzing fear played up by actors on television and the big screen, many of us do suffer from anxiety ranging from mild to severe when it comes to having our teeth cleaned, examined and potentially worked on. Sedation dentistry offers new hope for those whose anxiety is actually getting in the way of receiving the oral health care they need.
Who Is a Good Candidate for Sedation Dentistry?
Because sedation dentistry is incredibly safe, most patients are good candidates. Patients who experience high levels of anxiety or even phobia around visiting the dentists have found relief from years of neglected dental problems in just one visit with sedation dentistry. Those with a low pain threshold, a bad gag reflex or extremely sensitive teeth are also great candidates for sedation dentistry.
What Are the Different Levels of Sedation?
With minimal sedation, you are awake but incredibly relaxed. This is typically achieved through the use of laughing gas, or nitrous oxide. A mask is placed over your nose and the gas is inhaled until you find yourself in an extremely relaxed state. The effects of the gas wear off quickly, and this is the one type of sedation that allows you to drive yourself home after the procedure.
Moderate sedation typically involves the use of an oral medication such as Halcion, a member of the Valium family. Depending on the dosage, this form of sedation dentistry can range from minimal to moderate. The medication is usually taken about an hour before your appointment, and you will become very drowsy but in most cases will still be awake. Some patients have become so relaxed they’ve fallen asleep!
Deep sedation dentistry involves the use of an IV to administer and adjust medication to help you relax. Most patients are still conscious and awake but are more in a semi-awake state where they can communicate if needed but will have little memory of the procedure afterward.
General anesthesia is not used very often in dentistry thanks to the safety and effectiveness of other sedation techniques. It can increase the risk of problems for patients with diabetes, seizures, heart conditions, sleep apnea, drug allergies and those who smoke or are severely overweight.
For more information about sedation dentistry or to schedule an appointment, call us today at 970-221-5115.