If you feel nervous about visiting the dentist, you’re not alone. Dental anxiety is very common, and your dental team is happy to work with you to help you overcome your anxiety and to create an office experience which is as relaxing and stress-free as possible.
Share Your Concerns
First, if you have a history of dental anxiety, a low tolerance for pain, are bothered by noises, or have any other concerns, let us know just what kind of experiences are stressful for you. Discuss ways to deal with any discomfort in advance of your visit.
Ask About Your Treatment
If you are concerned because you don’t know what to expect during treatment, learning about the reasons for and the details of procedures in advance can help set your mind at ease.
Using headphones or earbuds to listen to your favorite music or a fascinating podcast can dampen stressful noises and make the time seem to go by more quickly.
Relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises, visualization, and muscle relaxation can be very useful for some patients.
Several options are available if you feel sedation is the best way to experience an anxiety-free visit.
Nitrous oxide is a form of minimal sedation. A precise mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen is inhaled through a mask worn throughout the procedure.
It’s the lightest form of dental sedation and is very effective in reducing anxiety. This type of anesthesia is called “conscious sedation” because you will remain awake, relaxed, and able to respond to instructions. Recovery time is very short.
Oral medications can provide minimal to moderate levels of sedation. Usually, oral medications that reduce anxiety are given in pill form.
The level of sedation and your level of awareness during the procedure will depend on the type of medication and dosage. You’ll need time for the medication to take effect and time to recover from the drug’s effects after your procedure.
IV sedation is moderate sedation, delivered through an intravenous line placed in a vein. This delivery system allows the sedative to take effect very quickly. Adjustments to the sedation level can be made throughout the procedure, which is helpful during longer procedures.
You will be awake or semi-awake, relaxed, breathing on your own, and able to follow directions. You might have little memory of the procedure afterward. IV sedation also requires recovery time when your dental work is complete.
Deep Sedation and General Anesthesia
For patients with severe anxiety, deep sedation (which depresses consciousness) or general anesthesia (which induces unconsciousness) might be considered in some cases, such as when extensive dental work is necessary.
Because the patient’s blood pressure, breathing, and heart rate need to be monitored, deep sedation and general anesthesia require a dentist and team with special training in anesthesia or a hospital setting. It generally takes several hours to recover completely from the effects of this type of sedation.
We will suggest the kind of sedation that fits your specific needs, and will take a thorough health history to make sure there are no pre-existing medical conditions that would preclude sedation and no interactions with any of your other medications.
Don’t allow dental anxiety to hold you back. We are always ready with recommendations to make your office experience the most relaxed and comfortable it can be.