We all know we need our dentist if we want to maintain our healthy smiles. In fact, it is expected that we visit them twice a year. But what if you have an actual fear of these visits? How are you supposed to be able to not only sit through one visit a year, but two? The idea sounds impossible as every fear you have about this appointment flashes through your mind. So you cancel your appointment. Or just skip out on the idea altogether and just deal with the pain. You aren’t alone. Of all the health professionals feared most by adults, the dentist is at the top of the list. So much so, Dental Anxiety (DA) is an actual diagnosis for this fear. For one reason or another, dental professionals everywhere are puzzled at the idea that their patients would rather do their taxes than keep a check-up appointment.
Fear not, the dental industry is listening. And they have been busy making huge strides in order to calm those fears. It is called sedation dentistry.
To break it down simply, sedation dentistry is the way your dentist relaxes you enough to handle the dental procedure through the use of medication. There are various levels that you can be sedated, ranging from minimal sedation to the completely unconscious general anesthesia. What you receive will depend on your fear and the recommendation made by your dentist. In addition, you will likely receive a numbing agent to the area that will be worked on. This will alleviate any pain you may have caused by the procedure. The idea is to make you as comfortable as possible as they do their job and to make recovery time minimal. Thankfully, there are many ways your personal “relaxation” can be administered.
If you aren’t in need of a lot to relax you, chances are you will be receiving nitrous oxide, or laughing gas. It is given to you as you breathe through a mask, so zero pain is involved. Because it is not a long-lasting option, you will have the option to drive home afterwards.
If you need to be calmed with a bit more than a little gas, the next option would be an oral sedative. Similar to a valium, the pill should be taken about an hour before your procedure so it has time to take effect. It will make a patient groggy, but you will be awake during the procedure. It is also possible to be sedated via an IV. It takes affect a lot quicker but the dentist also has the ability to adjust the amount as needed.
For the more invasive procedures, a deeper sedation will be required. Administered by medications prior to your procedure, this deep sedation method will render you unconscious and unable to be awakened easily, unlike the other lighter versions. General anesthesia is similar in that you will need it to wear off in order to be awakened because you will be in a very deep sleep.
It is important that you discuss all of your options with your dental professional before any procedure. They will know which method will be best for you and your fears while in their care. Mention your medical history or any other vital information that will help decide. Find out the risks. Find out how much experience your dental professional has had with your procedure. The more you know, the calmer you will feel when it’s time to get things done.
If you feel that you may benefit from sedation dentistry, contact Dr. Ted Haines, DDS in Snohomish, WA at 360-568-8577 or visit www.tedhainesdds.com for additional information.
Dr. Ted Haines proudly accepts patients from Snohomish, Monroe, Lake Stevens, Everett, Mill Creek, Woodville, and surrounding areas.