Do you shy away from going to the dentist? Do you go anyway but feel anxious and tense through the entire visit? Are you nervous enough that it interferes with what your dentist needs to accomplish? You’re not alone. In fact, Healthline reports that nearly 3% of men and 5% of women are just like you.
Nervousness about going to the dentist manifests itself along a broad continuum of intensity, from simply disliking the smell or sound of a dental office or dental equipment to a full-blown phobia called dentophobia, defined as an extreme or irrational fear of going to the dentist. Regardless, there’s good news. Here at Lifetime Dental Health we offer a full range of sedation dentistry, including IV sedation, so you can relax during your dental visit, even while we complete that dental work you’re fearful of.
What is Sedation Dentistry?
Sedation dentistry is just what it sounds like: dentistry that includes help for you to relax while you’re in the dental chair, whether it’s for a checkup, a dental filling, or a root canal. It uses medication to calm you and allow you to feel comfortable and at ease while you undergo whatever dental procedure you’re receiving. The level of sedation can range from minimal to moderate to deep, depending on the patient, as well as the procedure to be completed.
Who Could Benefit from Sedation?
Almost any patient may find sedation helpful, although it is generally provided to patients who:
Have had a distressing or traumatic dental experience
Are afraid of all dentists or dental offices
Are allergic to typical smells and tastes involved in dental work
Have hypersensitive teeth or an over-active gag response
Need a lengthy treatment or one that could be particularly uncomfortable
Are unable to stay still for the time a dental procedure will take
Want to feel less tense for any the reason
What Types of Sedation Are Available?
Patients at Lifetime Dental Health may receive any of three types of sedation to lessen, or eliminate, their nervousness and fear of dental procedures, and allow them to be totally relaxed and comfortable. We offer the following sedation methods, depending on your needs and your level of concern. And rest assured, you will be entirely safe throughout, because we will monitor your vital signs constantly.
Oral sedation is administered as a tablet or capsule, which you take with some water as you might take an aspirin. It’s a prescribed dose of a sedative that will make you feel sleepy, although you will be able to converse with our dental professionals during the entire procedure.
Inhaled sedation means nitrous oxide, more commonly known as laughing gas. This sedation requires a nose mask through which you breathe in the gas. The result is mild, but effective, and because it’s a gas, it kicks in quickly – as soon as 30-60 seconds after you start inhaling it – and disperses just as fast.
Simple oral or inhaled sedation is enough to relax many patients with moderate anxiety about dental visits. However, for some this isn’t enough. For patients with excessive trepidation about having dental work, we offer intravenous (IV) sedation – sedation administered by an injection – that is also called conscious sedation.
We often recommend IV sedation for patients who exhibit a severe dental phobia, or whose anxiety could interfere with their safety during a dental procedure. This type of sedation can be particularly effective when a patient needs several procedures at one visit or a single procedure that will take a long time. In addition, patients with a sensitive gag reflex or with special needs will likely find this type of sedation helpful for staying in the dentist’s chair for longer lengths of time
There are two types of IV (intravenous) sedation used in dentistry. We offer the lighter of the two variations, called “twilight” sedation, wherein you will feel sleepy as you do with oral sedation or laughing gas, but unlike with laughing gas or oral sedation, you are not likely to remember any of the procedure after you come out. Of course, you will not be totally unconscious. If we need to wake you up for any reason, we can.
Preparing yourself for IV sedation will be more involved than simply showing up for your appointment. You may need to avoid eating or drinking for a period of time before your procedure, and you will be unable to drive yourself home, so you’ll want to have a family member or a friend on call to pick you up after the procedure is completed. Be ready to stay at home and rest for the remainder of the day, too. Although you don’t actually sleep through the procedure, you will likely feel tired until the effects of the IV sedative wear off.
What Dental Procedures Can Be Done Under Sedation?
Almost anything that is commonly accomplished in a standard dental office can be done while a patient is under sedation, be it oral, inhaled, or intravenous. This includes everything from filling a cavity or giving a whitening treatment, to applying dental veneers or crowns, installing braces or aligners, even removing wisdom teeth. The decision to use sedation will be made between our dental professionals and you, our patient.
Would you like more information or to discuss whether sedation is applicable to your dental care needs? Be sure to contact us for a free consultation. We’ll be happy to further explain our sedation offerings and assist you in making a decision that works for you.