No-one exactly relishes squeezing a trip to the dentist into their already packed schedule, but for some people, the idea of stepping foot near their dentist's office is enough to make them run for the hills. Fear of the dental, dental anxiety, dental phobia – it is known as many things. Nevertheless, it is no laughing matter. Millions of Americans avoid visiting their dentist through fear each year and their dental health is suffering for it.
Your regular dental check-ups are for much more than just checking the condition of your teeth, although this obviously forms a big part of it. Our dentist also uses the opportunity to perform a thorough check of your gums and general oral cavity to check that everything seems healthy. Oral cancer screening is now also routine at most dental check-ups. Catching a dental problem early is essential if you are to start prompt treatment and avoid pain, lengthy and expensive treatments and potentially permanent damage.
The good news is that there is a solution that can enable even the most frightened patient to sit through a dental appointment – sedation dentistry.
Sedation dentistry, also known as sleep dentistry, refers to the use of sedatives so that a nervous or anxious patient can tolerate a dental appointment. Sedation dentistry is also widely used for those patients who have physical or cognitive disabilities that make it impossible for them to cope with dental appointments.
Sedation comes in a range of different forms and levels, and which you are offered will depend on what is to happen during your appointment and your level of fear.
Light sedation is usually provided in the form of nitrous oxide or laughing gas. The effects are mild and wear off as soon as you stop inhaling the gas.
Moderate sedation is administered via a pill that is swallowed an hour or so before your appointment. Your will feel disorientated and confused during your appointment and have little awareness of what is going on around you.
Heavy sedation is delivered via intravenous injection directly into your blood supply and will put you on the edge of consciousness throughout your procedure. This is normally only recommended for very invasive treatments such as root canal or dental implants.
General anesthetic is needed in some cases. This will see you put to sleep for the duration of the procedure.
Unsurprisingly, the biggest advantage of sedation dentistry is that it can enable you to tolerate a dental appointment, which is crucial for the health of your teeth.
Many people don't realise that science has shown an irrefutable link between oral health and general health, and when dental problems such as severe periodontal disease or infection are left untreated, it can have an effect on your overall wellbeing. Studies have shown that people with poor oral health are more likely to develop chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and even some cancers.
Dental problems are not pleasant for you, nor the people around you. In addition to anything from dull toothache to acute, agonizing pain, you may also suffer from side effects that include, but are not limited to:
- Bad breath
- Foul taste in your mouth
- Teeth grinding
- Swelling and inflammation
- Decayed teeth
- Broken teeth
- Teeth that are yellow/brown
- Tooth loss
By getting your dental problems sorted quickly, not only can you enjoy better health, but you can also save yourself from the expense and inconvenience that they often bring. Multiple appointments and costly treatments are to be expected for someone suffering from poor oral health.
One of the biggest challenges that dentists face is keeping someone still during an appointment. If you have a nervous disposition, you are more likely to flinch or move in some way, and this can be extremely dangerous if our dentist has tools positioned in your mouth at that time. Therefore, by sedating you and minimizing the likelihood that you will move, our dentist is also reducing the risk of any problems or complications arising from your appointment.
Sedation and pain relief go hand in hand, so you can relax and know that you will be completely comfortable throughout the procedure. Not only will there be no pain, but your fear of pain will also be under control too.
Sedation dentistry is now widely available from most dentists and is the perfect solution for anxious or fearful patients. If you would like to know more about sedation dentistry, our friendly, knowledgeable and discreet team are on hand to answer your queries. Please do not hesitate to contact our offices and have your concerns calmed.