Fear of the dentist consistently ranks among the top fears in the US, usually only behind fear of heights. Dental anxiety, while extremely common, can make even a simple cleaning seem like a nightmare. Here at Anderson Family Dental, our focus is always to provide comfortable, low-stress care for our patients. Sedation dentistry is just one way we can help!
A BIT ABOUT DENTAL ANXIETY
Fear of the dentist is not just one thing. Some patients have trouble coping with the entire concept of a dental office in general. Others may be uncomfortable with laying back because they’re afraid they might choke on water. Some people have had bad experiences in the past which feed their current fears, where others my have fears based on imagined risks or stories they’ve heard from other people.
Each person who is uncomfortable in the dental setting may experience a completely different intensity to that discomfort. Dental anxiety generally describes the milder end of the spectrum, with dental fear somewhere near the middle and dental phobia at the extreme end.
HOW WE HELP YOU OVERCOME DENTAL ANXIETY
No matter what triggers your dental anxiety or how intense it feels, we are equipped to help you cope. The first step is to sit down with your dental team and have an open conversation about what you’re experiencing. If there are specific triggers such as flavors or sounds that bother you, we can frequently eliminate or reduce them. If you need to take breaks during your procedure, we will do what we can to make that happen. Frequently, talking about your concerns can dramatically reduce their impact.
Some dental anxiety can be helped just by creating a more comfortable environment. Sunglasses, headphones with your favorite music, and maybe a fluffy blanket may be all it takes to help give you a relaxed dental experience.
However, we know some patients need a little more help getting their dental anxiety under control. That’s where sedation comes in.
SEDATION DENTISTRY CAN MAKE DENTAL ANXIETY A THING OF THE PAST
Just like dental anxiety, sedation covers many different experiences. Here at Anderson Family Dental, we offer all levels of sedation to address all levels of dental fear.
NITROUS OXIDE, AKA "LAUGHING GAS"
Most of us have heard of laughing gas. However, nitrous oxide doesn’t actually send most people into fits of giggles. Nitrous is an odorless gas that is combined with oxygen and inhaled through the nose to create a sensation of ease, relaxation, and slight sleepiness. It is an easy, effective way to reduce anxiety.
The great thing about nitrous is that it doesn’t get metabolized. What you breathe in is exactly what comes back out. That means that after we cut off the gas at the end of your procedure, there is no lingering effect after about five minutes. You can get your nitrous, get your dental treatment done, and get on with your day! It is also appropriate for kids.
Nitrous also helps to decrease your pain response and it can help local anesthetic work better. If you’re a patient with a strong gag reflex, it also helps to reduce gagging. It is most appropriate for routine procedures like cleanings, and for patients with mild, manageable anxiety who just need a little help getting through their appointment.
If Nitrous doesn’t quite cut it for your level anxiety and what you need done, the next level up is oral sedation. Your dentist can provide pills to help induce a sort of twilight experience. In this level of sedation, patients typically fall asleep in the chair. However, they are still able to communicate and answer questions. By keeping you in this drowsy, comfortable state, we can help patients with a moderate amount of anxiety or who need a more involved procedure.
Unlike nitrous oxide, oral sedation will last for several hours. Which is great if you have a long procedure, but usually means missing a day of work.
The highest level of sedation we offer is IV sedation. In this version of sedation, you will be completely unconscious throughout your visit. For patients with severe dental anxiety or dental phobia, or who need involved or lengthy procedures, this is a great option. You can come in, take a nap, and never even have to know you were here!
Talk to your dental team about what sedation options are most appropriate for you, and read more about your options here. Together, we can make a plan to address your fears and help you overcome them. The best thing about sedation dentistry is that you can overcome any previous negative memories at the dentist and start to create new, positive dental experiences. Over time, most patients find they no longer dread dental visits like they used to. Call us today to discuss your sedation options.