Did you know that about 178 million Americans are missing at least one tooth, and more than 35 million don’t have any teeth at all? This may sound alarming, but part of the reason for these dental issues is that people aren’t receiving the necessary dental care. Odontophobia, or a fear of the dentist, keeps people of all ages from regularly visiting their local dentist office, leaving the door open for all types of dental problems. Luckily, there is a way that these people can still receive the necessary dental treatment without the fear and anxiety they normally experience from their local dentist. Sedation at the dentist involves the use of medications to reduce the fear and anxiety that would normally accompany a trip to the dentist. There are three different types of sedation used by dentists depending on the procedure and level of anxiety of their patients.
- Nitrous Oxide – Nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, is a form of conscious sedation. It is a mild form of sedation, meaning patients are still awake and aware of what is going on during their procedure. That said, the gas administered creates a calming effect and greatly reduces the level of fear and anxiety typically experienced by a patient. The gas is turned off after the procedure and the effects wear off relatively quickly afterwards.
- Oral Sedation – Oral sedation dentistry can vary from mild sedation to a stronger level sedation, allowing dentists to provide the necessary level depending on the procedure and their patient’s specific needs. Oral sedation is given to patients in the form of a pill that they take either the night before, or right before the procedure. Depending on the level of sedation, patients may stay awake the whole time or doze off during the procedure. Oral sedation is the most common type of sedation used for dental procedures.
- IV Sedation – IV sedation dentistry is given to patients intravenously and allows the dentist to control the level of sedation throughout the procedure. This type of sedation puts patients into a state of complete relaxation but allows them to stay awake while their dentist is working. Because this is a stronger type of sedation, patients are unlikely to remember much of the procedure the following day.
Avoiding trips to the local dentist can create all types of dental issues down the road, from numerous cavities and missing teeth to serious dental disease. Thanks to sedation dentistry, patients no longer need to be afraid of the dentist and can get through routine check ups and major procedures in a calm and relaxed manner.