Dealing With Dental Anxiety

Dealing with Dental Anxiety
Posted on 10/10/2017
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Dealing with high anxiety before a visit to the dentist is more common than you might think. According to a study reviewed by the Columbia University of Dental Medicine, about 9-15% of Americans struggle with high dentist-driven anxiety. What's worse is 36% of those people avoid going to the dentist altogether because of their anxiety.

If you're a dental dodger you're not alone. Rather than rely on the numbers for comfort, you should know there's a solution. It's called sedation dentistry, and it's specifically designed to help those who struggle with anxiety during dentist appointments receive the dental care they need.

What is Sedation Dentistry?

Sedation dentistry is a common practice that provides patients with a calming, sedative medication prior to the appointment, helping them to relax. Most sedation techniques differ from anesthesia in that you likely won't be asleep or unconscious. Sedation dentistry can be used for a routine teeth cleaning or for something more complicated.

We all have different levels of anxiety and pain thresholds, and patient needs can vary widely depending on age, health and other factors. The dental field has developed many sedation options and strengths to accommodate different types of patients. There are four primary methods for sedation, each of which can be administered in a customized dose to ensure the patient experiences the level of comfort they need:

  • Inhaled minimal sedation – As the name suggests, inhaled minimal sedation administers a small amount of nitrous oxide, or “laughing gas,” through an oxygen mask to achieve a light sedation. This is referred to as “conscious sedation,” meaning you’ll be awake and responsive during the appointment. Some patients can drive home afterwards due to the mildness of the sedative.
  • Oral sedation - This method varies from minimal to moderate, depending on the dosage. Oral sedation involves the patient taking a pill anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour before the appointment, depending on the level of anxiety.
  • Intravenous (IV) sedation – Since IV sedation involves sedative going directly into the veins, it works much faster than inhaled or oral sedation, which can be a benefit for many patients with higher levels of anxiety.
  • Deep sedation and general anesthesia – These methods of sedation are for the more extreme cases, as both methods leave patients generally unaware of their surroundings. Both involve a heavy dosing of sedative, but deep sedation leaves you nearly unconscious while general anesthesia will render the patient completely unconscious until the sedative wears off.

Is Sedation Dentistry Right for Me?

Sedation dentistry is a viable solution for children and adults who deal with discomfort at the dentist’s office. In addition to anxiety, patients who have a low pain tolerance, sensitive teeth, have a hard time sitting still or just about any other reason can take advantage of sedation dentistry.

Is Sedation Dentistry Safe?

Sedation dentistry is safe for most people. However, those who have certain medical conditions, such as obstructive sleep apnea or obesity, should consult their doctor before receiving sedation dentistry.

Get Great Dental Care in St. Louis, Missouri Today

If you’re seeking professional dental care in the St. Louis area, trust the caring experts at Ballas Dental Care. Our expert staff is highly experienced in sedation dentistry and can help you comfortably get the dental care you need. Contact our St. Louis office online or by calling 314-432-5544 today.