Research suggests that anywhere from 50 to 80 percent of American adults suffer from mild to severe forms of dental anxiety. This condition is characterized by a physical or emotional response to a perceived threat in a dental setting. Real or imagined, people who have dental anxiety may experience sweating, palpitations, and visible distress. About 20 percent of these patients routinely miss their dental appointments. Somewhere between nine to 15 percent of anxious patients avoid it altogether, regardless of whether the treatment is simple or complex.
Fortunately, there’s something that allows oral healthcare professionals to provide a wide variety of treatments comfortably for patients with dental anxiety. It’s called sedation dentistry. This procedure uses medication to relax patients and lower their consciousness level while receiving dental care.
Many people believe that sedation dentistry will cause you to sleep. But it almost never does that. Depending on the extent of your anxiety, your dentist will administer the calming drug in one of three ways:
Inhalation. Inhaling nitrous oxide is the most frequently used technique in sedation dentistry. Commonly referred to as laughing gas, this chemical compound is odorless and colorless. The effects take effect fast. Once inhalation is discontinued, the effects also wear out just as quickly. Since recovery is immediate, patients can go back to their normal activities right away.
Oral. Another prevalent approach is oral sedation. It’s easy to administer and won’t require the use of needles. Here, your dentist will prescribe a pill that you need to swallow within an hour or two before your dental procedure.
Intravenous (IV). In this method, sedation is administered through your veins. Unlike oral sedation, your doctor can adjust the dosage. This way, they can give you the precise amount needed to manage your anxiety level. Similar to the other two techniques, IV sedation will not cause you to sleep.
The duration of this dental procedure generally depends on the dosage you received and the approach used by your dentist to administer the medication. As mentioned, laughing gas loses its effect quickly. So, you can resume your routine immediately. But for the other two, you may still be groggy after the treatment. It’s highly advisable that you come with a trusted companion who can drive you back home.
Aside from dental anxiety, sedation dentistry may also be an option for those who require complex dental procedures. It may also be recommended for patients who have a low pain threshold or suffer from severe gag reflex.
Yes. The law in the United States regulates sedation dentistry very closely. There are three states at which a dentist can administer your treatment. These are mild, moderate, and deep sedation. All dentists can administer laughing gas and oral sedation. But only certified sedation dentists can give it intravenously and facilitate deep sedation. Overcoming dental anxiety with sedation dentistry hardly ever causes side effects. But if you have any underlying medical condition or pre-existing problem, it’s best to consult with your dentist first.
Schedule your appointment today with our team of dental care experts at Gorgeous Smile. Call our office now in Arlington, Virginia, to see if sedation dentistry is right for you.