Are dental fears preventing you from getting the care you need?

Sedation dentistry could be your key to renewed confidence and a great smile!

You remember my patient Travis from last week’s newsletter. When Travis came in for a free consultation about his dental phobia, we identified a number of fears that he was suffering from, and also tried to identify the sources of those fears. Once we had successfully helped him realize where his fears were coming from, and that he actually could trust our staff to care for his needs, we were able to start working on his long-needed dental treatments.

What sealed the deal for Travis, and made him confident that he could get through all of the needed dental procedures, was sedation dentistry. This type of treatment involves the administration of some type of pharmacological substance, which reduces pain and allows the patient to relax, or in some cases become unconscious. It is important to remember that these types of treatments should only be pursued after you have talked about your dental fears, and gotten to know and trust your dentist.

Once Travis had agreed to get the necessary treatments for correcting his damaged teeth, he was still a little nervous about actually getting into the chair and going through with it. He was worried that the numbing needle would hurt, or that he would panic when he saw the dental tools. I explained that we could give Travis a drug to help him relax during the procedure. We discussed several levels of sedation:

  • Inhalation Sedation – this type of sedation is simply a gas (nitrous oxide, or “laughing gas”) which the patient breathes in through a tube. The gas has no smell or taste. Patients using nitrous oxide report that they feel pain go away and experience a relaxed, calm, euphoric feeling.
  • Oral Sedation – there are a number of different pills which can be prescribed for the patient to take prior to the dental treatment. Usually the idea is to reduce anxiety and make the patient feel more comfortable getting in the dentist’s chair. We also have the option of taking a pain killer along with the anti-anxiety drug in order to counteract the pain of any numbing needles or minor procedures.
  • General Anesthesia (GA) – this treatment is very rarely used in dentistry. With GA the patient is completely unconscious, even to the point where they may not be able to breathe on their own. GA requires extra equipment, dental professionals, and is very expensive. It is usually unnecessary for most dental procedures. Generally, the only situation when GA is used is for complicated extractions, such as impacted wisdom teeth.

For Travis’s treatment, he opted to go with an oral sedative before coming to the office, just to calm his nerves. He got through the procedure without any problems, and said he didn’t even remember what had happened. Travis went home and got on with his life, and with his new healthy smile.

If you think a similar sedation treatment might be a good option for you, please feel free to set up a free consultation to talk with me about it.

Next week, we are going to do an in depth comparison of inhalation and oral conscious sedation. You will learn all the details of each treatment, how they differ and how they can be used in combination like with Travis’s treatment.

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