Sedation DentistryJust as there are many reasons why people are fearful about visiting the dentist, there are just as many reasons why they should consider sedation dentistry.

Dental anxiety can be a particular concern among patients in their mid-20s or older who may have had bad experiences in the dentist’s chair when they were younger, in an era when dentistry wasn’t as focused on patient comfort as it is today.

Others are apprehensive about dental visits because of embarrassment, especially if their teeth have become unsightly because they’ve avoided dental treatment in the past. This situation can become a vicious circle.

With some patients, dental anxiety escalates into a full-blown phobia (odontophobia). People suffering from this mental health condition may become panic stricken just at the thought of seeing a dentist.

How Dental Sedation Can Help You

With dental sedation, you’re given relaxant medication before or during dental work. Levels of sedation can be deep, moderate or minimal.

Sedation dentistry can help you get through any dental treatment, including root canal work, extractions and dental implants. If your levels of apprehension are particularly high, your dentist may also consider sedation for routine work such as X-rays and cleaning.

Conscious sedation at the dentist’s takes the fear out of treatment while avoiding the greater risks associated with a general anesthetic (full sedation). Conscious sedation dentistry also results in a much faster recovery time than general anesthesia.

Even if you’re not particularly nervous about dental visits, sedation could still hold advantages for you.

So, here are just five of the many reasons to consider sedation dentistry:

1. No pain or anxiety

For most patients, dental anxiety is associated with fear of pain. If you opt for sedation dentistry, you won’t have to worry about experiencing any discomfort. If necessary, your dentist will still administer a local anesthetic to numb your mouth before carrying out any work, to ensure a totally pain-free experience.

Many dental treatments can be performed painlessly by injecting a local anesthetic, but a dread of needles (blenophobia) can put off some patients. Mild sedatives can ease the fear of needles and also numb pain sensations associated with injections, while moderate sedation can eliminate injections simply by taking a pill (oral conscious sedation).

Dental anxiety can last from the time you make your appointment until you leave the dentist's office. Dental sedation lessens anxiety during treatment, and just knowing this can go a long way toward making the prospect of going to the dentist much less stressful.

2. It makes time fly!

Mild sedation induces a sense of deep relaxation that makes time seem to pass faster and can leave you with little or no memory of your treatment, although you remain conscious during the procedure and able to communicate with your dentist.

In more than 90 per cent of cases, the mediation used in conscious sedation produces partial or full amnesia from when the drug takes effect until it wears off. Patients who remember nothing often believe they were asleep during the procedure, which gives rise to the term “sleep dentistry”, although this is a misnomer.

3. Fast recovery

The medication used for dental sedation takes effect quickly but also wears off quickly, typically resulting in a recovery time of less than half an hour. Your dentist will carefully monitor you to make sure you’re fit for discharge. However, you may feel sleepy for a few hours, so you’ll need someone to drive you home.

Side effects of sedation dentistry are rare, with a very small percentage of patients reporting shivering or headaches. The sedative agents can take up to 24 hours to leave your system, so you should take it easy while you fully recover.

4. Convenience and lower cost

Complex dental procedures without sedation can take several visits to the dentist because there’s a limit to how much patients can handle in one treatment session. Sedation saves time by eliminating the need for further appointments. With intravenous (IV) sedation, your dentist will be able to finish extensive treatment in one sitting – leaving you free to get on with all the things you’d much rather be doing!

Dental sedation can also save you money. With the help of sedation, your dentist can finish your treatment in less time, resulting in reduced treatment fees.

5. Sensitive gums or teeth, or a strong gag reaction

If your gums or teeth are so sensitive you can’t bear the thought of someone poking about in your mouth, sedation dentistry can eliminate the problems associated with this hypersensitivity. Nitrous oxide (laughing gas) could be just what you need to take the edge of your dental procedure. It works quickly to relax patients by inducing pleasurable feelings, and its effects then wear off quickly. Only a minority of patients experience any negative side effects from inhaling nitrous oxide.

Gagging is a natural reaction that helps to stop dangerous substances entering the airway but some people have a more pronounced gagging reflex than others. People with a strong gag reaction may well have a problem with dental treatment, especially work on the back teeth. Sedation can help minimize the gag reflex so your dental treatment can proceed uninterrupted.

Sedation Dentistry Can Solve a Multitude of Problems

Avoiding dental check-ups and treatment because of anxiety or phobia can have serious repercussions on oral health, with a high risk of tooth loss and gum disease. Dental problems can also spread to other parts of the body, and, in extreme cases, lower a person’s life expectancy by threatening vital organs.

Steering clear of your dentist can also result in emotional issues. Stained or chipped teeth can make you feel self-conscious about your appearance and lower your self-esteem.

Whatever your level of dental anxiety, and whatever is causing it, sedation dentistry could provide the ideal solution. Easing or eliminating fear and anxiety is probably the most significant benefit of sedation dentistry. Once these obstacles to treatment have been overcome, there’s nothing to stop even the most nervous patient from getting the dental treatment they need in order to enjoy better oral health and lessen the risks of tooth loss and gum disease.