Effective sedation dentistry techniques can eliminate the fear and stress you may feel before and during dental treatment. Fostering a positive patient experience is an integral part of excellent dental care. Our team is dedicated to helping our patients feel welcome, comfortable, and enthusiastic about improved oral health and aesthetics. Sedation dentistry helps patients to relax and retain a positive attitude about oral health including better hygiene habits. When fear is removed from the relationship you have about oral health care, you are more likely to schedule care sooner than later when needed, allowing you to maintain good oral health care throughout your life.
The Dental Organization for Conscious Sedation (DOCS) estimates that 30% of adults avoid the dentist due to fear. That’s 30% of people who could be suffering needlessly from oral diseases despite the technological advances that modern times have to offer. In fact, some researchers estimate that a staggering 75 million people living in the United States have some level of fear when it comes to dental care. That’s about ¼ of the population of just the USA. These fears could stem from general anxiety, a fear of needles or fear of the dental office itself due to traumatic childhood memories and even bad experiences as adults.
Aichmophobia is the fear of sharp objects, but is generally referred to as the fear of needles (needle phobia). Where sharp objects are present or used (such as anesthetic needles at dental offices), a person may choose to avoid routine dental care completely, which could seriously jeopardize their health, if not just their oral health. Dental fear has been known by many names such as: dental phobia, dentophobia, odontophobia, and dental anxiety, and as mentioned, it affects millions of people. If this includes you, you’re not alone.
Studies have shown that fear causes a person’s threshold for pain to become much lower than it otherwise would be. Pain is anticipated (such dreading those dental needles or more rigorous oral surgery procedures), and the brain triggers an adrenaline spike. Your body becomes tense, causing dental work to become trickier for both the patient and the dentist. Dental professionals saw a growing need to treat those with anxiety and fears that sought out (or didn’t seek out) dental care. More people would receive routine dental care if something was done to alleviate fear and pain, right? Thus, the creation of sedation dentistry. But what is it?
Many people refer to sedation dentistry as “sleep dentistry”, as it deals heavily with sedation (hence the name). This nickname is inaccurate however, as the patient does not actually sleep during their procedure. Depending on the person, their needs and their desires when it comes to sedation dentistry, various medicines can be used to relax the patient into a carefree state for varying periods of time. The patient will feel relaxed and sometimes sleepy, and most (if not all) of the pain, sights, and sounds of the dental procedure will be forgotten. The purpose of sedation dentistry is to allow a patient to receive routine oral care without the fear and anxiety that many feel approaching the dental office. The body and mind can relax under the close supervision of the dental provider. In many cases, procedures have been shown to go by quicker and are needed less often by those who choose sedation dentistry.
But does sedation dentistry still mean needles? Yes and no. Sedation via intravenous needle is used in some cases (mostly for oral surgeons on harder procedures) and per request of the patient (remember your dental care is in your hands). With sedation dentistry, a patient usually works with their dentist to decide what medicine is right for them. Every option besides IV does not require injection, thus eliminating the fear of needles that many feel. Medicines are given by mouth (orally) by swallowing or dissolving on or under the tongue. Some last for less than an hour, while others last hours for longer procedures (so it’s wise to bring a caregiver with you for your visit). These medicines administered orally allow a person to be somewhat sedated (sleepy and usually with amnesia) but awake enough to speak and answer questions.
Dentists are trained in sedation dentistry and go through continuing education courses frequently to be on the up-and-up with the best care for their patients. The medicines they use help patients immensely with their fear and anxiety and are known as benzodiazepines. These oral drugs include lorazepam, hydroxyzine, diazepam (valium), triazolam, zaleplon, and midazolam. The names are not as important as what they do for you. Oral sedation is one of three options patients have besides intravenous (IV) sedation and nitrous oxide (laughing gas). Taking a pill is quick and effective, it costs less than other options, and you won’t remember much of your dental experience. That is a win for most people. Plus, you can administer the medicine yourself, giving you even more control over your dental care.
Professionals say that oral sedation dentistry is the most common technique used by dental professionals to help patient fears. A major benefit is that most patients will feel that their procedure lasted only a few minutes, even if it took hours. It would be a shame to overlook sedation therapy if you are one who fears the dentist’s office. Not looking after your oral care could cause major decreases in quality of life and could cause serious problems if infections, cavities, cysts, and more are ignored.
So if you have been needing to head to dentist for whatever reason, but are too afraid to, seriously consider sedation dentistry. It is available to any patient if they request it and will provide a relaxing and stress-free experience. If you haven’t already, make sure to schedule an appointment with our office today, even if it is just to create a dental plan that is right for you. When fear is removed from the relationship you have with oral health care, your life will benefit greatly and you will have peace of mind. Whatever your needs may be, we’re here to help–just call our Fort Collins office today at (970) 223-6101, and our patient liaison will be happy to answer your questions or place an appointment at your request. You can also send a contact request or place an appointment online at your convenience.