Our bodies respond to stress with a multitude of uncomfortable sensations, including sweating palms, nervous tension, or a rapid heartbeat. In general, people tend to avoid situations that make them uncomfortable, fearful or anxious.
Even when they are in a significant amount of pain, many people avoid visiting their dentist because of anxiety, fear, and dental phobias. Sedation dentistry is often a welcome treatment option for those who put off necessary treatment to avoid the emotional discomfort of sitting in their dentist’s chair.
Understanding the Causes of Dental Fear or Phobias
Dental anxiety is not all that uncommon, affecting up to 20 percent of our population. For some, the discomfort felt at the mere thought of a dental exam originates from a negative experience, for others, the fear stems from stories they’ve heard, fear of doctors in general, or simply an aversion to the sights, sounds, or smells commonly associated with dentistry. Some people who avoid dental visits have close family members who also feel anxious about dental treatment, fueling their anxiety.
Anxiety symptoms can be difficult to avoid. Any situation that invokes a sense of fear or danger triggers the release of adrenaline and engages your sympathetic nervous system, the branch of your nervous system that prepares your body instinctively to fight your enemy or flee from danger. If visiting your dentist triggers this natural response, is causing dental anxiety, you may be familiar with some of these signs or symptoms:
- Waiting until mouth pain becomes unbearable before seeking treatment
- Difficulty sleeping the night before an appointment
- Fear of pain even when you know an upcoming appointment will not be painful
- Feelings of helplessness or vulnerability
- Fear of choking or gagging
- Self-consciousness about the condition of your teeth
- Sweating, trembling, or nausea in anticipation of an upcoming appointment
- Canceling appointments to avoid symptoms of anxiety
When your brain perceives a threat the physical responses in your body are the same whether the perceived danger is real or self-imposed. There is absolutely nothing to feel embarrassed about. These physical and emotional responses happen to everyone, for some people their fight or flight response just happens to be triggered by dental visits.
Sedation Dentistry Helps Calm Your Overexcited Nervous System
Sedation dentistry uses several methods of calming your central nervous system. When you are honest about your fear or anxiety about dental treatment, you and your dentist can come up with a plan best suited to your particular needs based on the cause and severity of your discomfort.
Sedation dentistry is not only for those who are affected by dental anxiety or phobias. There are many people who benefit from sedation dentistry. Just a few of the many people who could potentially benefit from sedation dentistry include:
- Those with a strong gag reflex
- Patients who have difficulty sitting still for procedures
- Those prone to having sensitive teeth
- Those who want to have more accomplished in fewer visits
- Patients with low pain tolerance
As you can see, many people benefit from the opportunity to make their dental visits more relaxing and pleasant. Sedation dentistry safely helps millions of people every year make their office experience more comfortable.
Understanding the Types of Dental Sedation
After discussing your discomfort, you and your dentist can work together to determine which method or level of sedation would be best suited to your needs. In most cases, you will be awake but relaxed. With sedation dentistry, time passes quickly, and your treatment will be finished sooner than you might expect. There are several methods of sedation commonly used by dentists, including:
Inhaled Sedation Methods
This minimal level of dental sedation typically relies on the combination of oxygen and nitrous oxide, more commonly known to many as laughing gas, to take the edge off of your anxiety. The effects of inhaled sedation wear off quickly, and you will likely be awake but relaxed during your treatment.
Oral Sedation Methods
When oral sedation is the best option, your dentist will prescribe a pill to take before you make your way to the office. The medication you receive will help you feel relaxed, but could also make you feel a bit drowsy. If you are prescribed oral sedation, you will want to have someone drive you to and from your appointment.
Intravenous Sedation Method
With Intravenous (IV) sedation medication is administered directly through a vein close to the surface of your skin, typically through a needle in your arm or the back of your hand. The needles are not painful or even uncomfortable. Your dentist will have the ability to adjust your level of sedation as needed throughout your treatment session.
General Anaesthesia or Deep Sedation
If your dentist decides that you will be best served by deep sedation, you will be unconscious or nearly unconscious until the effects of the medication diminish. Your dentist may also opt to reverse the effects of sedation with a counteracting medication. General anesthesia is not as common as other sedation methods but is still advisable in some situations including complex dental procedures.
One of the Many Methods Dentists Use to Keep You Comfortable
Dentists safely use pain and anxiety controlling medications for millions of patients every year to make dentistry as pleasant and pain-free as possible. Your dentist will use local anesthesia when necessary to block the nerves that transmit pain signals. Most often, dentists also use numbing agents to prepare the treatment area prior to injecting a local anesthetic. With the combination of local numbing agents, local anesthesia, and sedation dentistry, your next dental appointment could be both pain and stress-free.
Learn More About Sedation Dentistry
Too many people needlessly avoid dental exams, cleanings, and necessary dental restoration because they experience a significant amount of anxiety or fear involving dental treatment. Sedation dentistry helps millions of people feel comfortable and relaxed enough to get the dental care they need.
If you avoid visiting your dentist because of difficulty sitting still, fear, anxiety, or dental phobia, talk to your dentist about sedation dentistry. In Oceanside, CA, or the surrounding areas, contact North Coast Dental Excellence. We offer sedation dentistry because we want all of our patients to have a pleasant, comfortable experience. At North Coast Dental Excellence, we also provide family dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, dental restoration, and emergency dental services.