A dentist’s office doesn’t have to be a scary place, but unfortunately, many people postpone or avoid making important dental appointments as a result of a bad childhood experience, fear of needles, or what is commonly referred to as dental phobia. As everyone knows, routine dental work, which includes teeth cleaning, can prevent much more extensive or painful work on a later date. However, if painful work is required, the stress level can be reduced substantially. Many dentists nowadays offer sedation dentistry as a way to make those office visits easier on patients.
Sedation dentistry may be used in a wide variety of dental procedures, from a simple cleaning, to a root canal or extraction. It is used, not only to limit the actual physical discomfort of the procedure, but also to deal with the general phobia that a patient could have. It is a good alternative to get those who really fear going into the office for a cleaning or other necessary procedures.
There are actually four different types of sedation, and each is useful for specific anesthetic and psychological needs. Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, is a well-known and traditionally used sedative that induces an overall sense of well-being and relaxation in the patient. Nitrous oxide is regarded as a light sedative. Once the person is relaxed, a local anesthetic can be used to limit pain for more intense procedures. The down side to this sedation is that some people don’t tolerate the gas very well.
Oral sedatives, often called sleep dentistry but more accurately termed “conscious sedation,” is now the most widely used technique to reduce anxiety in the dental office. Dentists usually prefer patients to be awake to ensure that they are responsive. With this method, the patient will feel sleepy during the entire office visit, but won’t actually lose consciousness. The sedative can be given thirty minutes to an hour before a scheduled appointment, and can be used with a local anesthetic depending upon the specific procedure being performed.
Intravenous (IV) sedation has related effects as oral tranquilizers, in that the patient can remain conscious in a state of deep relaxation during the entire office visit. However, the sedative is applied through an IV, and a local anesthetic may also be required to eliminate pain. It is used in the same types of procedures as either nitrous oxide or oral sedatives, but should be administered by the dentist and supervised throughout the procedure.
Deep sedation, in the form of general anesthesia, is also used in some offices. However the patient will not be able to communicate with the staff, and may need assistance with breathing if there are troubles keeping his or her airway open. General anesthesia is reserved for in-depth oral surgery as a result of the inherent potential complications that can arise with this method.
Whether you are in need of a good cleaning, or are having a more complicated procedure, sedation dentistry can help relieve the strain of visiting the dentist. Don’t let your anxiety keep you from having a healthy beautiful smile.
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