If you are, you are far from alone. It’s estimated that as many as 75% of American adults experience some degree of dental fear, with 5-10% suffering from dental phobia – meaning they avoid any sort of dental care at all costs. As the connection between dental health and overall health has become more accepted in the medical and dental communities, the popularity of sedation dentistry as a treatment solution for those who dread the dentist has also increased in popularity.
There are many reasons to avoid the dentist, all of them valid. Money. Time. Anxiety. Fear of pain. The problem is that avoiding the dentist in the present increases the possibility for more severe (and expensive) dental problems in the future.
Research has also shown that there are more health reasons to see the dentist regularly than ever before. It’s not just about strong teeth and bones anymore – it’s about screening for oral cancer, heart attack and stroke prevention, and other health and wellness issues.
• Studies show that gum disease can increase the risk of cognitive dysfunction associated with Alzheimer’s, heart disease, stroke, and cause babies to be born with lower birth weights
• Oral cancer screening is extremely important with the prevalence of HPV (8 out of 10 Americans will have an HPV infection at some point in their lives), particularly for those over 40 years of age
• The condition of the mouth can be an indicator of contribute to the development of diabetes
• Many oral symptoms can reveal TMJ and help with headaches and migraines, teeth grinding, vertigo and dizziness, sleep apnea and insomnia
• Plaque buildup can cause gum disease, bad breath, and sensitive teeth
Sedation dentistry isn’t about getting a patient in the chair and knocking them unconscious, a concept that could cause severe dental anxiety in a person with no fear of the dentist at all! Sedation is different than anesthesia.
Local anesthesia numbs a specific area of the body by blocking nerves, and general anesthesia puts you into a deep sleep where your heart and breathing need assistance to continue. Sedation controls pain, calms you, and helps you relax – you are just in a waking, dreamlike state – sleepy but conscious, able to respond to the dentist and team, and breathing on your own. Sedation does produce some amnesic effects so the details will be fuzzy and your appointment will be over before you can say “aah.”
Sedation is routinely used for wisdom teeth extraction and other types of oral surgery. For those with a high tolerance to anesthesia, soreness of the jaw, or strong gag reflexes, sedation can assist both the patient and the dentist. Sedation can also allow for the completion of extensive dental work using less time and fewer appointments while you are comfortable.
The three most common ways for dentists to administer sedation are:
• Nitrous oxide sedation – inhaled nitrous and oxygen through a face mask
• IV sedation – administered intravenously
• Oral conscious sedation – prescription pill given to the patient to take before the procedure
The prescription medications used in sedation dentistry are benzodiazepines. They are safe and fast-acting. The most commonly prescribed by dentists are midazolam (Versed), diazepam (Valium), and lorazepam (Ativan). Dr. Wright will choose the most appropriate medication based on your health history and the procedure being done, and may choose. A dentist may choose to give a combination of more than one sedation method depending on the situation.
Millions of people every year choose sedation dentistry safely. Dentists are licensed doctors trained to take the best possible care of you. However, as with any other drug, sedatives may have side effects or may not be right for everyone. Before you get sedated, talk with Dr. Wright about:
If you choose sedation for an upcoming dental appointment, be sure to have a ride home arranged for your safety. Dress comfortably; avoid tight-fitting clothing and contact lenses.
It can be. Children’s dentists train for two or three additional years to learn safe sedation techniques for children. We may suggest sedation when kids have difficulty staying still, elevated stress levels, strong gag reflexes, or a physical disability that makes dental treatment difficult. Sedation can alleviate general agitation in kids while enhancing feelings of contentment, which is particularly helpful with special needs pediatric patients. Sedation is generally safe for children, but you’ll want to talk to Dr. Wright to make sure you understand the benefits and risks before choosing sedation for your child.
If you have any questions about sedation dentistry or you’re ready to schedule a visit with your Bulverde/Spring Branch sedation dentist, Dr. Wright at Smithson Valley Family Dentistry, give us a call today or request an appointment easily online below!