Conquering Your Fears with Sedation Dentistry
Dental Health • January 20, 2020
–Thomas Duffy, DDS
Perhaps you or someone you know suffers from severe dental anxiety. It’s normal to feel a bit nervous before an appointment but some people are so afraid and anxious that they can’t bring themselves to walk through the door. If this is how you feel, then you may avoid the dentist at all costs.
Unfortunately, unresolved dental issues can lead to a need for more complex treatment than originally needed, as well as potential problems that could impact your overall health. Thankfully, we can help you get past your fear with sedation dentistry. It’s a way of calming your nerves and making the whole experience less daunting. One of my patients described sedation dentistry as a “dream come true.” She told me she “loved the fact that when she came out of the sedation, everything was all done!”
At Peninsula Family Dentistry, we don’t recommend sedation dentistry for everyone but for those who need it, it can be a life saver! We want you to feel relaxed and safe with us.
Here are a few answers to common questions that will help you understand whether or not it may be right for you.
What is sedation dentistry?
Essentially, it’s the practice of providing relaxing and pain-free therapies to people before a dental cleaning or restorative treatment. At our clinic in Gig Harbor, we offer two sedation options:
- Oral conscious sedation –a pill that’s given to you before your appointment. It doesn’t put you to sleep (which actually can be dangerous when medicated) , but helps you relax and feel very calm. Often there is an amnesia effect. Oral conscious sedation requires that you have a driver to take you to and from your appointment.
- Nitrous oxide –the most common form of dental sedation, is also known as “laughing gas.” It is administered while you’re in the dental chair, making you very relaxed. It can reduce pain and help you feel euphoric—quite good! Nitrous oxide is administered by breathing through a small mask over your nose. Once it is removed, the effects wear off in minutes. You can even drive home following your treatment.
Both options will take your mind off the appointment and ensure that you have a relaxing, pain-free experience. We will discuss your options with you in advance so that you know what to expect.
Who is best suited for sedation dentistry?
Sedation dentistry is best for people who:
- have a significant fear of dentists
- suffer anxiety about upcoming procedures or
- avoid dental care, even when in pain
What are the benefits of sedation dentistry?
The key benefit is that it allows people to receive dental treatment without feeling worried or anxious. Of course, we will work to keep you pain free so you can fully relax.
As a consequence, you can benefit from maintaining your oral health by seeing your dentist regularly. Your fears should slowly subside too, as you’ll learn that there’s nothing to fear. When you’re aware that you’ll be sedated and can relax during the appointment, it lifts a huge weight from your shoulders. Some patients eventually can be weaned away from conscious sedation over time.
What if I am nervous but it’s not that bad?
If you’re just a little anxious, you may be able to manage your nerves naturally. Many patients distract themselves during their appointments by listening to music or practicing mental imagery (think tropical beaches or powdery ski slopes). Plus our calm and caring staff will be right with you and ask frequently how you’re doing. We have helped many patients like you learn to feel at ease by helping them stay calm and pain free. Building trust with your family dentist is an important part of learning to let go of your anxiety.
All in all, sedation dentistry is a fantastic way for people with dental fears to receive the treatment they need and deserve. At Peninsula Family Dentistry, we see patients from around the Gig Harbor/Peninsula who’ve avoided the dentist for years. The longer you go without dental checkups, the more chance there is of severe oral health problems developing.
So, if you want to conquer your fear and maintain excellent oral health, consider trying sedation dentistry at Peninsula Family Dentistry. We are happy to answer your concerns and to help you learn how you can begin experiencing relaxed, pain-free dental care on an on-going basis.