Do you have a fear of the dentist? If so, you aren’t alone. An estimated 15% of Americans put off going to the dentist because of fear or anxiety. Dental phobia is completely understandable. Having someone standing over you while you’re staring at a bright light, hearing odd whirring sounds, and not being completely sure of what is going can make anyone feel on-edge.
While being afraid of the dentist is completely understandable, that doesn’t mean that you should avoid going to the dentist. Without routine dental care, you could be looking at serious issues down the road. Cavities, gum disease, and tooth loss are just some of the problems that could strike. Is there a way that you can deal with your fear and make sure your teeth are in good health? Yes! – With dental sedation!
What is Dental Sedation?
Dental sedation involves using sedatives to calm and relax a patient before and during a dental exam or procedure. There are various types of dental sedation techniques available, but they shouldn’t be confused with pain management. Your dentist will use numbing agents to reduce your pain, which is usually administered via a shot. If you are afraid of receiving a shot, dental sedation can help to calm your nerves so that you are comfortable enough to receive the shot. That’s just one example of how dental sedation can be used to ease your anxiety.
Kinds of Dental Sedation
There are several types of dental sedation available. Some of the most commonly used medications and techniques include the following:
- Nitrous oxide. Also known as “laughing gas”, nitrous oxide helps to calm your nerves and the side effect is often a feeling of elation that can make you feel giddy or giggly (hence the term “laughing gas”). Nitrous oxide is administered through a breathing apparatus, which is placed over your nose. The apparatus delivers the medicine and you breathe it in. The effects usually kick in almost immediately and are quite mild. You’ll be awake, but your nerves will be much calmer than they were initially. It wears off almost as soon as you stop breathing it in, which means that you will likely be permitted to drive yourself after receiving nitrous oxide.
- Oral sedation. Also known as conscious sedation, with this type of treatment, you will be given a sedative prior to your procedure. Each patient and case varies, but you might be instructed to take the medication an hour or two before your dentist appointment, or you might be asked to take one the night before and the hours before your procedure. With this type of sedation, you will be awake, but the medication will leave you feeling much more relaxed. Medications used might include anti-anxiety medicine, depressants, or tranquilizers. The sedative will likely make you feel sleepy after your procedure, so driving usually isn’t recommended.
- IV Sedation. There are a few types of IV sedation. “Twilight” refers to being conscious, but not aware of what is happening; you likely won’t remember what happened during the procedure and you will feel sleeping. General anesthesia is another option. With this type of sedation, you will not be awake during the procedure. General anesthesia is usually used for significant procedures, such as oral surgery, and will have to be administered at a hospital or an office where an anesthesiologist can administer the medicine and monitor its effects. The effects of IV sedation are more intense than any other type of dental sedation. As such, you will not be permitted to drive after your procedure.
The Benefits of Dental Sedation
Dental sedation can offer several benefits. Some of the most notable benefits include:
- Reduced anxiety. One of the biggest advantages of sedation dentistry is that it will help you relax enough so that you can handle your dental procedure. Whether it’s a cleaning, a filling, or a more involved procedure, sedation can ensure that you are receiving the dental care that you need.
- Possibly no recollection. Another big benefit of sedation dentistry is that you won’t be aware of what is occurring. Though you might be awake, you probably won’t have any idea of what is happening or even recall the procedure. Of course, this can also help to alleviate your fears during the current procedure and future procedures, as well.
- More effective treatment. It can be difficult for a dentist to complete a procedure on a patient who is overly anxious. Sedation can make it a lot easier for your dentist to complete your procedure and ensure that it is done the right way.
Does Insurance Cover Sedation Dentistry?
It depends on your insurance provider. Some insurance providers won’t cover it unless you have been diagnosed with a severe dental phobia. If your insurance carrier does offer coverage, it may only cover a small portion. Make sure you speak to your insurance provider to find out how much – if any – coverage they offer.
Is Sedation Dentistry Right for You?
If the idea of going to the dentist makes you feel extremely anxious or you haven’t been to the dentist in a long time because of your fear, sedation dentistry could be a good choice for you. Speak to your dentist about your concerns and your fears prior to your appointment. Your dentist will recommend the type of sedation that will best suit your needs.
Sedation could be the best solution for overcoming your fear of the dentist and ensure that you receive proper dental care. If you feel that sedation dentistry is an option that you would like to explore, contact our office today! We will gladly discuss options that are available to you and help find a way to make your dental appointments as easy and comfortable as possible.