If you are one of the nearly 20 percent of Americans with an overwhelming fear of the dentist, avoidance may be your first choice. It isn't necessarily the best choice, though. If you need dental work, you'll have to find a way to overcome that fear in order to have it done. One of the things you should talk to your dentist about is the possibility of sedation for your dental work. Here are a few tips to help you understand what sedation dentistry can do for you and how you can tell if you qualify for this type of treatment.
Are You A Good Candidate for Sedation?
Sedation dentistry is typically only used for people who have an overwhelming fear of dental treatments or an anxiety condition that can prevent them from visiting the dentist. It's also a good choice for those with a significantly low pain threshold, because it can make it easier for you to handle the discomfort of the appointment.
For patients with a sensitive gag reflex or sensitive teeth, sedation can make a dental appointment more tolerable. It makes it easier for the dentist to do what needs to be done without concern. This is the same reason why sedation is sometimes considered for children with sensory disorders and hyperactivity.
What Kinds of Sedation Are There?
There are many different approaches to sedation for dental care, each with their own benefits. Depending on the severity of your phobia, your dentist will likely explore several options with you.
Nitrous oxide is a popular choice for sedation because it is inhaled, easy to administer and takes effect quickly. It's a minimal-sedation method, which means that you'll be conscious throughout the procedure, aware of what's happening and able to interact with the dentist. It's administered using a face mask, and your dentist will regulate its flow. Another benefit of this type of sedation is that it wears off quickly as well. That means that if you're driving yourself home, you'll still be able to consider this option.
Oral sedation is another choice for some patients. It offers more sedation than nitrous oxide. It's used for patients who are more stressed, anxious or afraid. Taken as a prescription pill, your dentist will instruct you about when to take it. Usually, you take it a short time before your appointment.
It will make you feel drowsy, but shouldn't actually put you to sleep. Your dentist can regulate the level of sedation depending on the type of sedative you're given. In the event that it does put you to sleep, though, you should be shaken awake fairly easily. This will make it easier for you to get through the procedure without facing a longer recovery.
Intravenous sedatives are more extensive, and are typically reserved for more severe situations. This sedation, while highly effective, is more complex. It must be delivered throughout the duration of your procedure. Your dentist will have a specialist on hand to monitor your well-being and adjust the sedation as necessary during your treatment.
General anesthesia is a deeper treatment, and one that's typically only administered under strict medical supervision. This type of anesthesia puts you into a deep sleep where you will be completely unaware of anything transpiring throughout the procedure. It's used only in extensive situations, though, such as significant dental surgery.
Because dental phobias are as common as they are, your dentist isn't likely to be surprised by any request for sedation for your treatment. Without the right care, you're likely to face serious long-term dental complications. Talk to your dentist today to see what your choices are for your next appointment.