Dental Procedure Pain: Get the Facts

Don't Let Fear Keep You From The Dentist

If thought of sitting in the dentist's chair terrifies you, you're not alone. It's estimated that between 30-40 million Americans are afraid of going to the dentist. The phobia can be so strong that sufferers will often go without important treatment and suffer continued pain, allowing the health of their teeth to be compromised. Thankfully, there is now sedation dentistry that can be used to help alleviate fear and anxiety.

What Is Sedation Dentistry?

Sedation dentistry uses medication to put the patient in varying states of awareness. The option used depends on the severity of the phobia. Options range from minimal sedation, where you are fully awake but relaxed, to maximum sedation, where you are completely unconscious.

What Are The Different Types Of Sedation Dentistry?

Depending on the dental office and the training of the staff, you may have a choice between several sedation options. These include:

Inhaled Gas Sedation

A small clip is strapped under the nose and a combination of oxygen and nitrous oxide gas, sometimes referred to as "laughing gas," is pumped into a mask worn over the nose. The nitrous oxide induces a very calm and relaxed state, but you are still fully aware of what is going on. The gas wears off very quickly, allowing you to even be able to drive yourself home afterwards.

Oral Sedation

With oral sedation, patients are given a prescription for a tranquilizing medication that is taken by mouth approximately one hour before their appointment. It may be Valium or another similar class of drug called Halcion. The dosage prescribed and how your body reacts will determine the level of sedation, which may be mild or strong. You may fall asleep during your visit, but can usually easily be awakened. You will need to have someone drive you to and from your appointment.

Your dentist may also opt to insert an IV and provide the sedative directly. This is more commonly used if a lot of work will be done in one visit as it allows the doctor to give you a steady stream of the medication.

General Anesthesia

This anesthesia means you will be put completely out. It is a deep sedation from which you will not be able to awaken from until sometime after the procedure is over and the anesthesia wears off or another drug is given to counteract the effects. This method of sedation is usually reserved for those with a severe phobia and for small children. You will need transportation for this method as well.

You don't need to let your teeth suffer because of your fears. Poor teeth can affect other areas of your health and adversely affect your self-esteem, so take the first step and contact a dentist who specializes in sedation dentistry today.