Sedation dentistry: can you really relax in the dentist’s chair? If the very thought of making a dental appointment fills you with dread, you’re certainly not alone. Millions of people suffer from dental anxiety, with as many as half of all US adults estimated to have some level of fear when it comes to visiting the dentist. This apprehension is the main reason people avoid regular dental visits, which is unfortunate since those check-ups are important for maintaining good oral health.
This can lead to something called a “cycle of avoidance,” where someone avoids dental care until an emergency occurs. This often requires invasive treatment to correct, which only reinforces their existing fear. But it doesn’t have to be this way!
Germantown Dental Group is proud to offer sedation dentistry for patients who experience any level of dental anxiety. If this is something you’ve struggled with, sedation can help you feel less fearful and more confident whether you’re coming in for a cleaning or more extensive work. Let’s take a closer look at how sedation dentistry can help you relax in the chair and enjoy the benefits of regular dental care! Keep reading below to learn more.
What is sedation dentistry?
Sedation dentistry offers dental patients a way to reduce stress, achieve a more comfortable experience in the chair, and feel more positive about visiting the dentist. We use medication to help patients who:
- are nervous at the thought of needles or dental treatment in general
- are uncomfortable with the sights, sounds, tastes, and smells associated with a dental office
- have sensitive teeth and gums
- have difficulty achieving numbness
- have a sensitive gag reflex
- are anxious about extensive treatments
Sedation also helps prevent spontaneous movement, leading to a safer experience for both the dentist and the patient. Sedation medication can also help patients forget many details of the procedure. This can be beneficial, as it helps patients to not be fearful or anxious about future appointments. Sedation can be especially helpful if several procedures need to be done at the same time, allowing even complex treatment to be handled in fewer visits.
What types of sedation are available at Germantown Dental Group?
There are several different types of sedation available, each with its own particular benefits. Once we assess your medical history and comfort level, we’ll look at the type and duration of the procedure needed before recommending a particular method of sedation. We have the following sedation options available.
You’ve probably heard this referred to as “laughing gas” before, but the technical term for this type of sedation is nitrous oxide. This mild sedative is very safe and very common, as it can be used in dental patients of all ages. We administer this gas by placing a fitted mask over the nose. The mask carries oxygen mixed with the nitrous, and as the patient breathes in normally, uptake occurs through the lungs. The sedation takes effect in about five minutes, but the mask will remain in place until the procedure is complete. The patient will be conscious throughout the procedure.
When the treatment is complete, the nitrous will be turned off and the patient will breathe in pure oxygen for a few minutes to clear out any remaining gas. There are generally no lingering effects, but nitrous oxide can occasionally cause some mild nausea. We suggest only minimal food intake before the procedure for this reason. Patients receiving nitrous oxide should have no problem driving themselves home from their appointment.
A common method to reduce dental anxiety is the use of oral sedation in the form of pills. Anti-anxiety medication such as Valium and Halcion bind with the receptors in the brain that are responsible for fear in order to help patients relax. Depending on the dosage and type of medication, most patients will experience a sense of calm and drowsiness. Minor amnesia and a tingling sensation are also common side effects.
While these sedatives help patients feel calm and relaxed during dental treatment, most remain conscious and are still able to communicate with our team. We will usually monitor patients for about half an hour after the procedure is complete, but the effects can last for 4-6 hours or so. Patients who are scheduled for oral sedatives should not eat or drink after midnight on the day of their appointment. Due to the lasting effects of oral sedation, these patients will also need someone to drive them home after their appointment is complete.
What are the benefits of sedation dentistry?
Sedation dentistry has several benefits. It will allow you to completely relax during your dental visit, and complex procedures can be accomplished in a single visit. This can allow you to catch up on years of putting off regular dental checkups! Other benefits include:
- a reduction in your gag reflex
- simplifies treatment
- provides comfort and rest
Forget your fears with sedation dentistry from Germantown Dental Group
The team here at Germantown Dental Group has been trained to be sensitive to dental phobias. We do everything we can to make your dental experience physically and emotionally comfortable, and our sedation options can play an important role in that. Whatever the root cause of your dental anxiety, you’ll be treated with understanding and compassion. Are you wondering if you could be a good fit for sedation dentistry? Get in touch with us today to schedule a sedation consultation!