Do you experience fear of visiting the dentist? You are not alone; Odontophobia or fear of visiting the dentist is shared amongst about half of all Americans. Many dentists understand not everyone feels comfortable sitting in a dentist's chair and offer assistance in making you feel more comfortable while having your teeth worked on. Dental anxiety is more than just an inconvenience; it can prevent you from getting the oral health care you need.
To help anxious patients cope with this condition, more and more dentists are offering sedation dentistry, a safe and effective way to allow dentist phobic people get through their procedures. Sedation is used to help patients experience a relaxed, easy and calm state through the use of sedatives. There are various ways sedatives can be administered, and are explained below.
IV Sedation- Intravenous (IV) sedation offers sedatives that are delivered via an injection to the blood vessels of the hand or arm. This method is safe and effective but is being replaced by more appealing methods that do not require needles.
Oral Sedation- Oral sedation is now the most popular form of sedation in the United States and Canada because of its ease of use and lack of needles. Many dentists are licensed to provide oral sedation and will administer medication that allows patients to have a minimally depressed level of consciousness. Administration under such an experienced sedation dentist makes this process both safe and effective in getting patients through their visit. Oral sedation dentistry, unlike general anesthesia, does not leave you completely asleep. Patients still breathe independently and they can still respond to verbal commands.
Traditional Modalities of Inhalation- Nitrous oxide or "laughing gas."
Although sedation may increase your threshold for pain, many dental treatments still require the use of a local anesthetic to be injected in the mouth to block pain impulses from the effected teeth and gums. This occurs after you have been sedated and comfortable, and most likely will not bother you during the injection or after the treatment.
Not all dentists are qualified to administer sedation so it is wise to choose one who is both qualified and experienced. While most states require training and/or a permit for sedation dentists, only a few -- for example Missouri and West Virginia -- demand that the dental team also possess this expertise. However, many sedation dentists provide extra training to their teams without being requested to do so, and there are good reasons for this.
Sedation teams are responsible for monitoring patients' vital signs using equipment like a pulse oximeter with a blood pressure monitor. They can also recognize and respond to potential emergencies.
In any case, don't hesitate to ask your dentist about what training the office has received. You should also inquire how many sedation cases have been performed.
Dental procedures that may require long operation times are made easy through sedation dentistry. Aside from keeping you comfortable you will not be as tired after a long procedure. The effects or sedation fade after a couple of hours so it is easy to get back into your normal routine and eliminates the need for missed work days or time off from school following a dental appointment.
Additionally more complex dental procedures such as a smile makeover or extensive rebuilding procedures that normally require multiple visits can often be performed in fewer appointments. So any reluctance patients may have to undergo more complicated cosmetic or restorative dental procedures can be done comfortably so that you can get the smile you have always wanted.
Also sedation dentistry allows those patients who would normally avoid getting routine maintenance (most recommend bi-annual visits) more likely to receive recommended routine care. The neglect of one's oral health is much less likely to build to up a point where oral health problems require drastic dental treatments to become troublesome.
Getting oral care no longer has to be an uncomfortable, frightening or painful experience. Oral sedation dentistry allows the patient to have a minimally depressed level of consciousness and you and your dentist will have open communication. He will constantly monitor your vital signs while working on you, ensuring you are in a safe and relaxed environment.