Your palms begin to sweat and your heart starts to race as you ease yourself into the chair. Are you going to be locked in for the wooden roller coaster ride?
No, you’re sitting down in the dreaded dentist chair.
Just the thought of visiting the dentist makes your blood pressure rise. The antiseptic smells, the whirring sound of a drill, and the idea of a shot of Novocain makes you feel woozy.
The question is, how do you get past all that in order to take care of your oral health? Sedation dentistry may be the answer.
According to Colgate, “Dental anxiety and phobia are extremely common. It has been estimated that 9% to 15% of Americans avoid seeing the dentist because of anxiety and fear. That’s about 30 million to 40 million people.”
That’s a lot of people who fear going to the dentist…
Sedation dentistry is a way for dentists to help you and your family overcome your anxieties and phobias about dental visits.
Also called sleep dentistry, this type of dentistry generally uses medications to help the patient relax during procedures. Although medications are commonly used, dentists are also learning newer techniques that use more of a holistic approach.
Fear and anxiety of going to the dentist can seriously interfere with your oral health. Not getting regular checkups and cleanings can lead to problems such as bad breath, gum disease, and cavities.
Poor oral hygiene can also cause or worsen other health issues including heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis.
The positive result of sedation dentistry is that you experience fewer or no symptoms of anxiety when going to the dentist. Your dentist may prescribe a medication for use before your visit, or use a mild sedative during the dental procedure.
The prescription drug Lorazepam, an anti-anxiety medication, is given in pill form as a sedative. It’s prescribed by your doctor or dentist, and is taken several hours before your scheduled visit.
This helps relieve not only your anxiety during your dental visit, but any pre-anxiety you might experience just thinking about going to the dentist. This helps you to curb the urge to cancel your appointment at the last minute due to your anxiety.
Nitrous oxide, better known as laughing gas, is a commonly used mild sedative that is administered during your dental procedure. It is mixed with oxygen and inhaled through a small mask placed over your nose.
You will remain awake during the dental procedure but feel calm and relaxed. Your arms and legs may feel tingly or heavy. The effects wear off shortly after the dentist removes the mask from your nose.
A new way to relieve anxieties is a technique called Nucalm. This is a neuroscience technology that brings your body to a pre-sleep state of deep relaxation without the use of narcotics or controlled substances. With specific sounds and the removal of light, your body becomes relaxed and your mind at ease.
In the Nucalm system, you first either apply a topical cream or chew a dietary supplement that has ingredients that will help you to relax. Then special patches are placed behind your ear that are designed to enhance your relaxation.
After that, specially created acoustic music is played through noise-dampening headphones. The last step is to wear a light-blocking eye mask.
Nucalm is administered only by dentists that are certified and trained in the procedure. This technique has become widely utilized by dentists nationwide.
Although there are many advantages to sedation dentistry, there are a few things to be aware of.
Sedatives such as Lorazepam and nitrous oxide can be a great help in reducing your anxiety, but there could be serious side effects. It’s important that your dentist or doctor know all the medications you are taking, and any health conditions you have.
Anti-anxiety medications can cause serious interactions when taken with certain other medications. Some medical conditions could be made worse by taking sedatives. Medications effect everyone differently, and should be taken with caution.
Another issue with sedation dentistry is that insurance companies may not cover the costs. The cost of sedatives and other relaxation techniques could be rather expensive, so out-of-pocket costs could creep up to financially uncomfortable heights if not covered by your insurance.
The best way to know the pros and cons of sedation dentistry is to talk with your dentist.
A professional dental office, such as Aesthetic Family Dentistry in Phoenix, Arizona, can give you all the information you need to make informed decisions for you and your family. They can explain what the techniques are available and how they are administered.
Make an appointment today with Aesthetic Family Dentistry to find out more about sedation dentistry. The professionally trained staff will assess your overall health and guide you and your family in determining the best technique to help relieve all your anxieties relating to dental visits.