Dental anxiety is a very real problem that can keep people from receiving the care and treatments they need. It’s not helped when others try to tell them to “get over it” and that their teeth are simply too important.
If it was something they could just “get over,” then it wouldn’t be a phobia in the first place. The source of these anxieties could come from a wide range of dental-related issues. Maybe they don’t like the sound of the drill or the sight of a needle. Maybe they have a very low pain threshold or a very strong gag reflex. Maybe they just don’t like people hovering right over their face.
There are some simple solutions to this, though. For some people, it’s enough to bring along a little moral support, for others, some meditation and breathing exercises may be enough to put their concerns in the back of their minds where they can’t do any harm.
Some people, though, need the absolute certainty that when they step into the office, there will be a tried and true method to ensure they “won’t feel a thing.”
That’s where sleep dentistry or sedation dentistry comes in. And in the most severe cases, this is where we rely on IV sedation because we can use it to achieve far more predictable results and completely control the level and depth of the sedation.
When a Local Isn’t Enough
A lot of the developments in dentistry are centered around providing a pain-free experience. Even so, many people still deal with their fears and anxieties and that’s something a local anesthetic won’t help alleviate.
Conscious sedation is the next step. While many people automatically assume that sedation dentistry means they will be out cold during the entire procedure, this isn’t necessarily the case. The fact is, for many treatments, we need you away during the procedure so you can respond to questions and requests. You’ll be totally relaxed, and you won’t feel any pain, but you’ll be able to work with us to ensure the procedure is completed as quickly and effectively as possible.
Different Levels and Different Approaches
The level of anxiety a patient feels will directly impact the depth of sedation and delivery method we use. In many cases, oral sedation – medicine taken before coming to the office to help relax – is enough. In other cases, though, we may need to use nitrous oxide (laughing gas) to take the edge off the anxiety and help you relax.
IV Sedation is extremely useful in these cases, because the sedative is received through a vein, which means it will go to work very quickly and take immediate effect. What this means is that we can constantly change the level of sedation to ensure that you are fully relaxed. We can also take you to a deeper level, while keeping careful control over the amount of medication your receive.
Finally, there is also an option for general anesthesia, which will put you out completely and is only done in a hospital setting with an anesthesiologist present. Generally, this level is reserved for patients who are medically or mentally compromised.
The Benefits of IV Sedation for Dental Procedures
We already mentioned that sedation dentistry isn’t used to knock you out cold, so the question is how does it work?
IV sedation works by inducing a deep feeling of relaxation and a sense that you can’t be bothered by anything. It also produced some partial memory loss for the time between when the medication kicks in and when it wears off. That means even though you will be awake during the procedure, from your perspective, the procedure will start and the next thing you know you’ll be getting ready to leave.
In that sense, it is a lot like you’re just asleep through the whole thing.
Chances are we will still use a local when we start the treatment, though, because IV sedation is about eliminating anxiety, not pain. And even if you won’t remember it later, we don’t want you feeling any pain throughout the procedure. So a local may still be used, but if you’re afraid of needs, we’ll wait to use it until after the sedation takes effect.
Don’t let your anxieties over visiting the dentist stop you from getting the treatment you need. Talk to us about your concerns and we’ll help you determine if IV sedation is right for you. This way, we can make sure your next visit is comfortable and relaxing – even if you technically won’t remember it.