Did you know that a large portion of the American population suffers from fear of seeing the dentist? Unfortunately, this often leads to those people seeing their dentists on an irregular basis, and sometimes not seeing their dentists at all. As you may know, seeing your dentist regularly is one of the most important things you can do to protect your oral health. If you’re not going to your dental checkups, you are at a greater risk of oral health complications such as gum disease and cavities.
If you fear going to your dentist for your regular checkups, you may wonder if you will ever be able to take care of your teeth to the fullest extent. Fortunately, a practice called sedation dentistry exists that can help you work through that fear.
What is Sedation Dentistry?
Sedation dentistry, also sometimes called sleep dentistry, is the practice of using medication to calm patients during common dental procedures. Your dentist can administer the medication with a variety of different strengths, ranging from minimal sedation to general anesthesia, in which you are completely unconscious. You can receive sedation medication through a variety of methods, depending on how strong it is. Your dentist will use one of the following methods to administer the medication:
- Inhaled Sedation – Nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, is one of the most common forms of sedation dentistry. It is also one of the weakest sedation methods and keeps you entirely conscious throughout the procedure. However, it does its job well in relaxing you. You are able to drive home yourself after having taken laughing gas.
- Oral Sedation – Oral sedation comes in the form of pills and ranges from minimal strength to moderate strength. Dentists most commonly use the drug Halcion, which you typically take an hour before the procedure starts. Depending on the strength of the dose, you may find yourself drifting to sleep during the procedure from the medicine, but your dentist can easily wake you up.
- IV Sedation – Medication received intravenously is more moderate in strength, and it takes hold faster than pills or laughing gas because it is injected directly into your system. Many dentists prefer this method of sedation because they can easily control the level of strength you receive.
- General Anesthesia – General anesthesia is administered intravenously, and it will make you completely unconscious for the entire procedure. This type of sedation is commonly used for root canal treatments and other surgical procedures.
Why Sedation Dentistry?
Sedation dentistry may sound scary, but you can be assured that your dentist knows what he or she is doing when administering the medication. The reasons for needing sedation dentistry vary from person to person, but some of the most common reasons come about due to fear and anxiety. Maybe you had a bad experience at the dentist as a child, or maybe the equipment your dentist uses in the office scare you. Whatever the reason may be, dental sedation can be one of the best solutions for you.
Do You Have the Right Dentist?
One of the most important things you can do to combat your fear is to find a dentist that makes you feel comfortable in any situation within the walls of his or her office. Sedation dentistry is certainly an important step to take in helping you overcome your fears, but if you don’t trust your dentist, you won’t be comfortable in the chair, even with dental sedation.
If you have a dentist with whom you feel comfortable already, consult with him or her to see if sedation dentistry is right for you. There are always risks involved with taking medication to calm you down, but your dentist can explain everything in depth in order to help you feel like you’re making the best decision for yourself.