Does the thought of making a dental appointment fill you with dread? If so, you’re not alone! Millions of people all around the world experience dental anxiety, with as many as 75% of US adults estimated to experience some level of dental fear. In fact, this is the biggest reason why people avoid regular visits with their dentists! That’s unfortunate, since these check-ups are an important part of maintaining healthy teeth and gums. A person with extreme dental phobia may never see a dentist, while others may force themselves to go but struggle with anxiety the whole time. We’re here to tell you everything you need to know about sedation dentistry!
People who are fearful of dental care often fall into what we call a “cycle of avoidance.” They avoid care until a dental emergency occurs. These often require invasive treatment which only reinforces their existing fear of dentistry. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be this way! Here at Boger Dental, we’re proud to offer a range of treatment options to patients who experience any level of dental anxiety, including sedation dentistry. Let’s take a closer look at what these options are and how they can help you feel less fearful and fully confident in our expert care!
What is sedation dentistry?
With sedation dentistry, we use medication to help patients relax during a dental procedure. This makes the visit less stressful, allowing nervous patients to cope better and feel more positive about their treatment. Sedation also helps prevent spontaneous movement from the patient, leading to a safer experience overall.
It’s important to understand that sedation medication is not given to control pain or discomfort. However, it can help patients forget many details of the procedure, so they won’t be fearful or anxious about future appointments! Sedation can be especially helpful if several procedures need to be done at the same time, though more than one sedation appointment may be required based on the amount of work to be done.
What types of sedation are available at Boger Dental?
There are several different types of sedation available, each coming with its own particular benefits. Once we assess your medical history and comfort level, we’ll look at the type and duration of the procedure needed before recommending a particular method of sedation. Our practice offers the following sedation options.
Also referred to as laughing gas, nitrous oxide is a mild sedative that is very safe and commonly used in dental patients of all ages. We administer this gas by placing a fitted mask over the nose. The mask carries oxygen mixed with the nitrous, and as the patient breathes in normally, uptake occurs through the lungs. The sedation takes effect in about five minutes, and the mask will remain in place until the procedure is complete. The patient will be awake throughout the procedure.
When we’re done, the nitrous will be turned off and the patient will breathe in pure oxygen for a few minutes to clear out any remaining gas. Although there are no lingering effects, nitrous oxide may occasionally cause nausea. For this reason, we suggest only minimal food intake prior to the procedure. Patients receiving nitrous oxide can drive themselves home from their appointment.
A common method to reduce fear and anxiety related to visiting the dentist is the use of oral sedation in the form of pills. Anti-anxiety medication such as Valium and Halcion bind with the receptors in the brain that are responsible for fear in order to help patients relax. Depending on the dosage and type of medication, most patients will experience a sense of calm, drowsiness, minor amnesia, and tingling sensations.
While these sedatives help patients feel calmer and sometimes drowsy during dental treatment, most will still be conscious and able to communicate with the dental staff. We will usually monitor patients for about half an hour after the procedure is complete, but the effects of it can last 4-6 hours or so. Patients who are scheduled for oral sedatives should not eat or drink after midnight the day of their appointment. Due to the lasting effects of oral sedation, patients will also need someone to drive them home after the appointment.
Intravenous (IV) sedation is administered directly into a patient’s arm or hand. It’s often referred to as “conscious sedation” as opposed to general anesthesia, since patients breathe on their own while their breathing and heart rate are monitored and remain responsive to a dentist’s prompts. Patients who are scheduled for IV sedation should not eat or drink after midnight the day of their appointment. Under a general anesthetic, patients are more deeply sedated, need assistance breathing, and are not responsive to verbal or physical prompts.
During the process of IV Sedation, a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) administers and monitors intravenous anesthesia throughout the procedure. This allows our dental team to focus on treating the patient while they are deeply relaxed and comfortable. IV sedation with a CRNA is more predictable than oral sedation dentistry.
Just like with oral sedation, patients scheduled for IV sedation should have a driver ready to escort them home after the procedure. This person should plan to monitor the patient for a while if possible, as some effects of the medication may linger for the remainder of the day.
What are the benefits of sedation dentistry?
Sedation dentistry will allow you to completely relax during your dental visit. Complex procedures can be accomplished in a single visit, allowing you to catch up on years of putting off regular dental checkups. If you require IV sedation, a licensed nurse anesthetist will administer it, which means the depth of your sleep will be monitored and tailored to your specific needs.
Boger Dental cares about your comfort
At Boger Dental, we are trained to be sensitive to dental phobias. Our team will do everything possible to make your experience comfortable on both a physical and emotional level. Our sedation options can help you through your dental appointment with little to no anxiety! You’re truly putting your smile into the best hands when you choose our Plymouth practice.
Whatever your reason for dental anxiety, Boger Dental will provide the best experience possible, through compassionate care, excellent communication, and customized treatment options. To find out if you’re a good fit for sedation dentistry, get in touch with us today to schedule a sedation consultation!