Afraid of going to the dentist? You’re not alone. Dental Fear and Anxiety (or DFA) is one of the most common phobias among people young and old. Some estimate that 1 in every 6 Americans would rather risk a toothache, gum disease, or yellow teeth than ever step foot in a dentist’s chair. However, avoiding the dentist altogether can bring about a much more horrifying fate. After all, unchecked gum disease can increase your chance of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes among other diseases.
Luckily, there is a way to gain the benefits of a dental visit while avoiding any unneeded trauma. A dentist may not be the ideal person to help you through your fears, but they are prepared to help their more anxious patients with the help of modern-day sedation techniques.
What is Dental Sedation?
Dental Sedation, or sleep dentistry, refers to the use of sedatives and anesthetics in order to help relax a patient during a procedure. That’s right! Anesthesia isn’t just reserved for the likes of root canals and wisdom teeth removals. They are also available for regular cleanings upon request.
The use of sedatives for those who have a hard time with dental visits provides the best of both worlds. It allows your dentist to clean your teeth properly without any added difficulty. Meanwhile, you get all the health benefits that come with proper care of your teeth and a pearly-white smile to boot.
How Does it Work?
It’s important to note that the term “sleep dentistry” is a bit more general than it implies. Not all forms of dental sedation involve knocking a patient out. (In fact, most don’t.) So, if you’re also worried about being unconscious during a procedure, know that there are other options.
There are three common dental sedation methods to consider:
Nitrous gas: Commonly known as “laughing gas”, this is the most popular dental sedation method. A patient inhales the gas given to them through a mask covering the mouth and nose. This type of sedation wears off quickly, and patients are usually allowed to drive themselves home afterward.
Oral sedatives: A patient is given a pill — such as Halcion or diazepam — which is swallowed an hour before the procedure. There are both minimal and moderate options for this method, but both render the patient drowsy yet conscious.
Intravenous sedatives: A drug is administered to a patient through an IV or needle. This method acts much quicker and grants the dentist continuous control of the dosage level. Depending on the chosen drug, a patient can be rendered partially conscious or completely unconscious. (Note: this method may come with side effects).
How to Get Started
Tempting as it may be to avoid the dentist, don’t let fear stand in the way of a beautiful smile and a healthier life. Instead, try scheduling an appointment with a North View Dental professional and see if sleep dentistry would be right for you.