Dental phobia, or fear of the dentist, is very common. It’s estimated that as many as 15% to 30% of Americans have dental phobia. Dental anxiety can make it difficult to go to the dentist, even when you know you need dental care. If you have a dental phobia, dental sedation can benefit you. And here are a few benefits of sedation dentistry.
Many patients experience severe anxiety related to the dentist’s office. Dental offices can be crowded and chaotic. The sound of the drill or the whir of an electric handpiece can be very intimidating to some people. For others, it’s simply the fear of pain. Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, is one of dentistry’s most widely accepted methods of managing patient anxiety. Loved by dentists and patients alike, it provides rapid relief within minutes and can calm your nerves for the duration of your appointment.
Oral sedatives are another option for anxious patients. They produce a similar feeling of euphoria as nitrous oxide but are slower-acting. Oral sedatives also allow for longer appointments and greater productivity on the part of the dentist. This makes them a good option for those who suffer from acute anxiety and fear associated with dental procedures. These medications are available in pill form and are taken about an hour before the procedure.
Sedatives work by slowing down the mechanisms of the brain that control memory formation and retrieval. Patients with moderate or deep sedation may not remember much about their procedure once it’s over. As a result, they may not feel as anxious about returning to the dentist’s office in the future because they won’t have a “working” memory of their experience.
Why it matters: Oral conscious sedation is widely considered one of the safest methods of sedation dentistry. Its use can improve a patient’s experience during dental procedures and help patients feel more at ease in the dentist’s chair, which may encourage them to keep up with their regular oral health maintenance procedures.
Reduction in the gag reflex
A majority of adults will experience some kind of anxiety when going to the dentist. If a patient has an extreme case of dental anxiety or fears, he or she may experience what is called the gag reflex. This is a reaction by the body’s autonomic nervous system that is triggered when a foreign object enters the mouth. This can occur with slight amounts of food and even saliva. For some patients, if they become anxious during a treatment appointment, they may feel the need to push their mouths closed and swallow. When they do this, it triggers the gag reflex.
With sedation dentistry, this side effect can be eliminated. Most sedative medicines are administered intravenously, so the patient will feel the effects almost immediately after beginning treatment. As the medication takes effect, the gag reflex will be suppressed, allowing the patient to relax and not feel a need to swallow his or her tongue. This prevents gagging and allows the dentist to work more efficiently.
The dentist can work faster
When you opt for treatment with sedation, your dentist can complete more procedures in one visit so that you don’t have to come back multiple times to get everything done. And when you’re in the dental chair longer because you’re receiving multiple treatments at once, you’re more likely to get tired or fall asleep and need anesthesia to keep you unconscious.
You can even receive sedation for routine procedures like cleanings so that you don’t dread going to the dentist’s office.
This may make the difference between getting the care you need and completely avoiding the dentist’s office out of fear and anxiety – both of which can lead to worse dental health issues and more costly dental treatments.
If you experience anxiety or fear during any dental procedures, ask your dentist about sedation dentistry so you can receive the care you need without the stress!