Millions of Americans miss out on essential care every year because they have reservations about visiting the dentist. Many of these patients are suffering from dental anxiety or dental phobia.
For patients with dental anxiety and other situations that make them reluctant to go to the dentist, sedation dentistry allows them to get the necessary treatment to maintain a healthy and attractive smile.
Common reasons why patients choose sedation dentistry include:
- Gag reflex — There are some patients who experience an involuntary muscle contraction known as a gag reflex any time an object is placed in their mouth.
- Difficulty Sitting Still — Dental treatment causes many patients to fidget or move around in their seat, and this can make treatment difficult.
- Low Pain Threshold/Sensitive Teeth — Some patients find even the most basic dental treatments to be extremely uncomfortable.
- Patients Requiring Substantial Treatment — With dental sedation, dentists can perform a larger amount of dental work in a shorter period of time, reducing the number of appointments necessary to complete a given procedure.
Dental Anxiety and Dental Phobia
People who miss out on regular dental checkups leave themselves vulnerable to dental infections such as tooth decay and gum disease. The sooner a patient receives treatment, the easier it is to prevent these maladies from damaging your smile. Over time, issues that could easily be treated can lead to serious consequences such as pain, bleeding, and the loss of teeth.
Peter Milgrom is author of the book Treating Fearful Dental Patients. He estimates that between five and eight percent of Americans completely avoid going to the dentist due to dental fear or dental anxiety. Milgrom says another twenty percent of patients will only see a dentist when it’s absolutely necessary.
Dental anxiety and dental phobia are the most common reasons for avoiding the dentist. Dental anxiety causes “a sense of uneasiness” about visiting the dentist. Dental phobia, on the other hand, is a much more intense phenomenon, causing patients to become “panic-stricken” at the mere thought of visiting the dentist.
Dental sedation makes it possible for patients with dental anxiety or dental phobia to relax and sit still during dental procedures. That’s why Dr. Eric Koch says he “recommends sedation dentistry for patients who are extremely anxious about visiting the office.”
Your Dental Sedation Options
These days, patients have a number of different options when it comes to oral sedation. When you meet with your dentist for a consultation, they can help you choose the one that’s right for you.
Oral sedation is a safe and easy way to relax while a dentist provides services to keep your smile healthy and strong. All you have to do is take a pill before your appointment and you’ll be ready to go. Dr. David Blaustein is Board Certified to administer oral sedation,
Oral sedation is the most commonly used method for dentists in the United States. During your procedure, you’ll be awake and responsive, but you probably won’t remember very much about it afterward. With oral sedation, you’ll definitely want to arrange to have someone drive you to and from your appointment.
Nitrous oxide is commonly referred to as laughing gas. It’s administered via inhalation through a small mask that the patient wears over their nose. Nitrous oxide can be provided immediately before your treatment and it wears off quickly afterward. That means you can drive yourself home after a brief waiting period.
Intravenous (IV) sedation is dispensed directly into the patient’s veins. It’s frequently used for extensive and time-consuming procedures like wisdom tooth extraction or placing an implant-secured full-arch restoration such as All-on-4. IV sedation is precisely measured. According to Dr. Peter Troyan, it “allows maximum control over the amount of anesthesia that is administered.”
If you select IV sedation, you’ll sleep comfortably throughout the procedure. It’s essential to arrange transportation home after receiving IV sedation, however, because it takes a while to wear off.
Avoiding the Dentist Has Serious Consequences
Patients who completely avoid going to the dentist run the risk of damaging their smiles. And conditions that are easily treatable can end up wreaking havoc on your teeth and gums.
You aren’t just risking your smile when you miss out on professional dental care, however. That’s because gum disease has been linked to a number of serious medical issues. Research suggests that the bacteria that cause gum disease can spread to other parts of your body as well.
By preventing gum disease, you’ll reduce your vulnerability to stokes, respiratory disease, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, and other harmful conditions.