Does the thought of having your teeth cleaned make your entire body tense with fear? Would you rather endure the agony of a toothache than step foot in a dentist’s office? You’re not alone. A lot of people are so phobic about going to the dentist that they prefer not to have any treatment. As many as 79% of people in America suffer from fear and anxiety about visiting the dentist – and many of them don’t obtain vital dental care because of that. Dr. Thomas Sammons fully understands the anxiety people feel at the prospect of dental work. That’s why at Dental Artistry we offer sedation dentistry options here at our practice. Sedation dentistry can make your experience with us “easy-peasy” and as pain-free as possible. We offer multiple sedation techniques to help you feel relaxed and comfortable during your treatment. In fact, you may not even realize the procedure was performed until it is complete!
What Is Sedation Dentistry?
For people who avoid dentists like the plague, sedation dentistry may take away some of their anxiety. Sedation can be used for everything from invasive procedures to a simple dental cleaning. How it’s used depends on the severity of the fear. Sedation dentistry uses medication to help patients relax during dental procedures. It’s sometimes referred to as “sleep dentistry,” although that’s not entirely accurate. Patients are usually awake with the exception of those who are under general anesthesia. Sedation is most appropriate for people with a real fear or anxiety that is preventing them from going to the dentist.
Sedation dentistry may also be appropriate for people who:
- have a low pain threshold
- can’t sit still in the dentist’s chair
- have very sensitive teeth
- have a bad gag reflex
- need a large amount of dental work completed
What Types of Sedation Are Used in Dentistry?
The following types of sedation are used in dentistry:
- Inhaled minimal sedation. You breathe nitrous oxide — otherwise known as “laughing gas” — combined with oxygen through a mask that’s placed over your nose. The gas helps you relax. While it does not make everyone laugh, it is a very mild form of sedation that can help decrease a patient’s anxiety about having dental procedures completed. Your dentist can control the amount of sedation you receive, and the gas tends to wear off quickly. This type of sedation does not have as many restrictions as the other two types. Almost anyone is a candidate for nitrous oxide sedation (even kids!), and there are no long lasting side effects after the dental procedure is over. There are no eating restrictions prior to or after using nitrous oxide and you can drive yourself to and from your dental appointment.
- Oral sedation. Depending on the total dose given, oral sedation can range from minimal to moderate. For minimal sedation, you take a pill. Typically, the pill is Halcion, and it’s usually taken about an hour before the procedure. The pill will make you drowsy, although you’ll still be awake. Oral sedation is a way for you to experience virtually painless dental treatment without being totally unconscious during the procedure. Oral sedation makes it possible for you to avoid feeling discomfort or pressure during the procedure; however, you will be able to communicate with Dr. Sammons and his assistants. Some people become groggy enough from moderate oral sedation to actually fall asleep during the procedure. They usually can be awakened with a gentle shake.
- IV sedation dentistry. You receive the sedative drug through a vein, so it goes to work more quickly. This method allows the dentist to continually adjust the level of sedation. IV sedation dentistry is your best option if you are extremely afraid of dental treatment, find you need to have dental surgery, or even have complex restorative treatment completed. IV sedation is the highest level of sedation that is offered in our office. It is administered by a Nurse Anesthetist. In this type of sedation, we combine oral and IV medications to ensure the patient is comfortable and unaware of the dental procedure going on around them. During this type of sedation dentistry, your blood pressure, pulse, and oxygen levels will be monitored throughout the entire procedure.
Regardless of which type of sedation you receive, you’ll also typically need a local anesthetic — numbing medication at the site where the dentist is working in the mouth– to relieve pain if the procedure causes any discomfort. Dental Artistry offers our patients aroma therapeutic candles, facial towels, paraffin hand wax, hand massages, chenille throws, garden-window views, and over ear headphones with custom-selected music. By offering distractions through the form of pleasant sensations, we hope to help you be mindful of relaxing sensations, thus reducing your anxiety.
Let Dr. Sammons and Dr. Laurent of Dental Artistry transform your smile while you relax in comfort. Call our Lafayette office today at 337-406-1110 to wake up to the smile of your dreams.