Are you anxious about visiting the dentist? Does your body tense with fear at the thought of having your teeth cleaned? Are you the type who would choose to sit in pain rather than step into a dental office? You are not alone. Fear of going to the dentist is very common and often means people choose to let their oral health decline rather than visit their local dentist.
If you’re one of those people, sedation dentistry can be the bridge you need to start getting back on track with your oral health. It provides an opportunity for those with some dental anxiety a chance to have a pain-free and anxiety-free dental experience. Whether a simple tooth cleaning or a more invasive procedure, it can be used in a variety of situations and depends on the severity of the fear.
Sedation dentistry (or sleep dentistry) uses medication to help patients relax both before and during dental procedures. The key here is that it provides patients with a deep sense of relaxation, making it a comfortable dental experience. Although called ‘sleep’ dentistry, patients typically are awake when undergoing sedation dentistry (exception when general anesthesia is used).
There are four “levels” to sedation dentistry.
- Minimal sedation: Awake but relaxed.
- Moderate sedation (Conscious sedation): You probably won’t remember much of your appointment and slurring words is common when speaking.
- Deep sedation: Sleep is coming for you and will be heard to fight off, but you can still be awakened.
- General anesthesia: Completely unconscious.
In addition to the four levels, there are four types of sedation dentistry.
- Inhaled minimal sedation. A mask is placed over your nose, and you breathe in laughing gas combined with oxygen, which allows you to relax. Your dentist has easy control over the amount of sedation you receive, and the gas tends to wear off quickly. It is possible that the patient is able to drive themselves home after.
- Oral sedation. This can range from minimal to moderate, and is all dependent on the dose your dentist gives you. Minimal sedation typically involves a pill taken about an hour before your visit. You’ll be awake, but it will cause drowsiness. More commonly in sedation dentistry, a larger dose is given to achieve moderate sedation. In that case, it’s likely you’ll dose off, but your dentist is able to wake you up with a gentle shake.
- IV moderate sedation. Given through an intravenous (i.e. in your vein), this goes to work much more quickly than the oral method. Your dentist will continually adjust the level of sedation with IV sedation dentistry.
- Deep sedation and general anesthesia. This is deep sleep. It’s very likely you’ll be completely unconscious through your appointment, and it’s not easy to wake you up until the anesthesia wears off. A true way to experience dentistry asleep.
At Advanced Dental Arts we practice oral sedation dentistry. This type can be supplemented with other medication inhaled through a mask placed over your nose to ensure you are as relaxed and calm as possible throughout your visit. If you’re seriously considering sedation dentistry, check out our post on the 5 most common questions about sedation dentistry.
If you’ve had a bad experience at the dentist in the past or have general fears about visiting the dentist, come in for a free consultation today and meet with our dentists. We have years of experience working with anxious patients and are here to partner with you in achieving the smile of your dreams.
Still in the exploratory stage? Download a copy of our free guide to sedation dentistry for more detailed information on what you can expect, plus a questionnaire to help determine if you should be looking at sedation dentistry.
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