It’s a fact of life that brushing and flossing at home only slows the development of plaque and tartar build-up. Without regular dental cleanings, these by-products of eating eventually take hold, putting you at risk of gum disease and tooth decay.
Keeping your oral health in top condition means time in the dentist’s chair. That it’s unavoidable doesn’t help when you suffer from dental anxiety. It’s natural to avoid stressful situations, but this is one case where avoidance threatens your health.
Ben Mohrman, DDS, and the team at Affordable Dental East in Indianapolis, Indiana, understand that many of their patients feel nervous about dental care. That’s why we offer sedation dentistry, several methods to help you relax while you’re in the dentist’s chair.
As many as one in five Americans skips out on dental appointments due to fear or nervousness about their treatment. They may have trouble sleeping the night before a dentist visit, or their anxiety may peak while in the waiting room. Claustrophobic feelings can start when dental instruments come close to their mouths.
Most of the associated fears that accompany dental anxiety are groundless, worries about pain or failing anesthesia. By association, the sights, smells, and sounds of a dental office can trigger these concerns. It might come down to the loss of control they feel. It’s possible to know that dental phobia is irrational while still feeling its full effects. Sedation dentistry helps to suppress anxiety and relax a nervous patient.
While many share dental anxiety symptoms, the intensity varies between patients. You can choose the level of sedation that suits you best. There are three types of sedation that are used most often in dental settings.
Usually delivered in pill form about an hour before your procedure, oral sedation keeps you conscious but relaxed. You may fall asleep when the sedative takes effect, but it’s shallow, and you can wake easily. Oral sedation takes time to wear off, however, so you’ll need a ride home after the procedure. Medications commonly used for oral sedation include diazepam, lorazepam, triazolam, and zaleplon. Liquid sedative syrups may be used for children.
Also known as laughing gas, you’ll receive nitrous oxide through a nosepiece. It takes effect quickly, in under five minutes, and its dose is continuously variable throughout your procedure. You’ll be relaxed and feeling comfortable while your dentist completes their work. Nitrous oxide wears off as quickly as it starts, and you can drive yourself home if you choose this sedation method.
For those with the most severe dental anxiety, intravenous (IV) methods produce the deepest form of sedation. Most patients fall asleep and have little memory of their treatment. This may also be an option if you have a long procedure. Since medications are delivered directly to your bloodstream, they take effect quickly. However, effects may take hours to clear, so once again, you’ll need a driver to take you home.