Although it is recommended that you visit your dentist twice a year for cleanings and exams, this is not always easy for people who suffer from dental anxiety. Many people experience minor dental anxiety that can cause them to be nervous when visiting the dentist, but some people’s dental anxiety is so severe that they will do just about anything to avoid a trip to the dentist.
Since regular preventative dental care is the key to reducing the risk of tooth decay and gum disease, avoiding the dentist can have serious consequences to your oral health. That is why your local dentist offers a few different ways to relax at the office. Here are four ways your dentist can help you relax:
Pain is one of the main factors that make people nervous about going to the dentist. Although dental procedures of the past may have been uncomfortable, this is no longer the case thanks to dental anesthetics. Dental anesthetics are specialized medications that are used to prevent nerves from transmitting pain signals to the brain. Simply stated, dental anesthetics make the treatment area numb so that you won’t feel any discomfort during the procedure. While you may still feel pressure, there should be no pain.
Laughing gas, known more formally as nitrous oxide or inhaled sedation, earned its nickname from its ability to produce feelings of euphoria. This is another common method that your dentist may use to ease dental anxiety. When receiving nitrous oxide sedation, you will inhale the nitrous oxide gas through a small mask placed over your nose. Once you start to inhale the gas, you will feel deeply relaxed, and possibly euphoric, within a matter of minutes. Although you will remain conscious during the procedure, you will not feel any anxiety about what is happening around you. After you stop inhaling the gas, you will stop feeling the effects within minutes. This is because nitrous oxide has no long term effects, meaning that you can drive yourself home safely after the procedure.
Another method your dentist can use to relax you during your procedure is by using an oral sedation method. Oral sedation is provided through the use of sleeping pills taken the night before and/or the morning of your procedure. These sleeping pills can provide a moderate level of sedation that is deeper than that accomplished with nitrous oxide. Although you may still be conscious during the procedure, it is also very possible that you will fall into a light sleep while under the effects of oral sedation. In the case that you do fall asleep, you will still be able to respond to basic questions and be easily awoken. Unlike nitrous oxide, however, oral sedation does continue to affect you for some time after the procedure. This means that you will need to have someone drive you to and from your appointment.
The final method your dentist may use to relax you is IV sedation. When receiving IV sedation, you can expect to have an intravenous catheter inserted into a vein in your arm. This catheter will be used to deliver sedative medications directly to the bloodstream, producing an immediate effect. IV sedation is the most precise and easiest method to control, and is generally used when a deeper level of sedation is required. Depending on various factors, your dentist can use IV sedation to provide a moderate level of sedation which can keep you conscious but sleepy, as well as a deep level of sedation, which can put you into a twilight sleep. After undergoing IV sedation, you will have little to no memory of the procedure. You will also need to have a driver present since the effects of the sedation will continue throughout the day.