Understanding Dental Anxiety
It’s common to associate a visit to the dentist with anxious feelings. For some, these nerves arise before a procedure, while others experience more severe dental anxiety that occurs even during routine checkups. If you get anxious just thinking about going to the dentist’s office, you’re not alone – it’s estimated that over 8 million women in America suffer from dental anxiety.
Thankfully, sedation options exist to help ease anxieties and create a more comfortable visit.
Nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, is a harmless gas inhaled through a mask. You will remain fully awake, but in a more relaxed state that diminishes pain and gag reflexes. Its effects wear off after only five minutes, allowing you to safely drive yourself home.
Oral sedation comes in the form of a prescribed sedative pill you’ll take at home before arriving for treatment. This will put you in a state of near sleep and effectively allow you to dissociate from the stressful experience yet remain conscious enough to respond to the dentist’s commands. You will have little to no memories of your experience.
IV sedation is a fast-acting sedative administered through a vein in your arm. You will not be aware of what happens in the dental chair and will have no memories of the experience. Because oral and IV sedation can take several hours to wear off, plan for a trusted companion to accompany you to and from the dentist’s office and provide transportation home.
A local anesthetic is often paired with these sedation options to numb the treatment area and ensure a painless experience.
A positive dental experience with sedation can help you restructure your relationship with the dentist and combat dental anxiety. Your dentist can determine if you are a candidate for either oral or IV sedation and help you take the steps necessary to maintain your oral health.