Experiencing fear of the dentist and/or stress or anxiety as a result of having to visit the dentist’s office are actually fairly common experiences. While these emotions can range from extreme fear (dentophobia) to mild anxiety, they often result in people putting off dental treatments that they need, and sometimes dental anxiety completely prevents people from visiting the dentist at all.
Unfortunately, neglecting your teeth and delaying dental care – especially if you already have dental issues – is not only harmful to your oral and general health but avoiding the dentist can also result in more serious dental health issues that require lengthier and more invasive treatments that could have been easily prevented from developing with routine dental cleanings and examinations.
Thankfully, there are several relaxation strategies that dentists, like Dr. Jared Harding at Dentistry of West Bend, can provide to patients who experience dental anxiety to help them access the dental care they need to stay healthy.
What Is Oral Sedation?
Also called pill sedation, oral sedation is a type of sedation dentistry that uses prescription medication to help patients relax before and during their dental exams. The medication used for oral sedation is usually a type of benzodiazepine such as Valium, Xanax, or Halcion.
A single dose (based on the patient’s weight) of this medication is prescribed and filled prior to the patient’s dental appointment. We typically direct patients to take the medication about an hour before the time of their dental exam. This ensures that the patient is nicely relaxed and calm throughout the appointment.
Oral sedatives make patients feel sleepy and relaxed. Under oral sedation, patients are aware, able to communicate, and able to respond during their appointments. However, with slightly stronger doses, patients often do not remember everything that occurred during the appointment.
With oral sedation, it is necessary to arrange transportation both to and from a dental exam, as it is not safe to drive while sedated with oral sedatives.
The Benefits of Oral Sedation for Dental Care
Oral sedation is extremely beneficial for patients who experience dental anxiety. It helps to eliminate stress before, during, and after dental appointments thanks to their relaxing effects. Oral sedatives are safe and easy to administer. Oral sedation requires no needles like intravenous sedation methods but provides a much more potent effect than sedation with nitrous oxide (laughing gas).
The primary benefit of oral sedation for dental care is that it enables many patients with dental anxiety and dentophobia to visit the dentist and get the dental care they need to stay healthy in the long run.
What to Know About Oral Sedation Dentistry
Before recommending oral sedation, our dentist needs a complete list of all the prescription and over-the-counter medications and supplements you are currently taking. This way we can ensure you are prescribed a sedative that won’t interact with or affect your current healthcare routine.
Additionally, it is essential that patients have transportation to and from an appointment with oral sedation. Since they are not immediately effective, patients must take the pill prior to their appointment time to ensure the sedative has taken effect by the time they arrive at the office.
Depending on the nature of your job, you might be able to return to work after your dental appointment, although you likely will still feel sleepy after the appointment has concluded. However, being orally sedated can impair your ability to perform various tasks, and it is not safe to operate equipment, machinery, or vehicles while the medication remains in your system.
Our dentist can help you determine whether or not you can return to work immediately after your appointment or if you should plan to take the rest of the day off.
Additional Types of Sedation Dentistry
In addition to oral sedation, there are other types of sedation dentistry available that offer patients various levels of sedation. These include light sedation with nitrous oxide and deeper forms of sedation using intravenous medications.
Nitrous oxide provides patients with a gentle calm, while patients remain fully awake and alert throughout their appointments. IV sedation, sometimes referred to as general anesthesia, creates a fully unconscious state. General anesthesia is usually only recommended during the lengthiest and most invasive types of oral surgeries.
Find Relief From Your Anxiety at Dentistry of West Bend
At Dentistry of West Bend, our dentist Dr. Jared Harding understands just how much of a challenge it can be for some patients to brave the dentist’s office and get the dental care they need to stay healthy. Our entire team always works with a gentle touch and careful attention to detail. Additionally, we are always here for you.
If you struggle with any level of anxiety during your dental visits, we strongly encourage you to talk with our team. In addition to offering you strategies for managing dental anxiety (meditation, music, or noise-canceling headphones), we can make special accommodations, such as taking breaks and working out a system of non-verbal communication, to help you stay more calm and relaxed in the dentist’s chair. Additionally, we can work with you to help you determine whether or not sedation dentistry might be right for you.
To learn more about sedation dentistry, oral sedation, and light sedation with nitrous oxide, we welcome you to contact us today.