There’s no need to fear the dentist when there’s dental sedation at hand. Here’s what it is.
Dentistry has come a long way in the last few decades. Modern procedures and techniques mean that practically everything you have done is relatively quick and painless, so you’re out of the dentist’s chair in no time and without having felt a thing. The goal of most dentists today, and certainly ours here at The James Clinic, is to put the patient and their comfort first, thereby ensuring a positive experience all round.
Not every dental patient is the same, though, and we know that many people who come to us to have fillings, extractions, their teeth cleaned or anything else done can have a great deal of anxiety before they even step foot in the clinic. There’s even a condition called dentophobia, or fear of the dentist, (iatrophobia is a fear of doctors) and it’s so pervasive that up to 60% of people can suffer from it — literally breaking out in a cold sweat even at the thought of making an appointment with their dentist.
Like many such fears, they’re almost entirely irrational, and there’s no reason to have them in the first place. They may have arisen due to tales from older folk who went to the dentist and had a bit of a brutal time — painful injections, excruciating extractions and more. But the reality is that none of that happens now. Still, fears persist, and no one wants an extremely nervous patient in the dentist’s chair — it’s not good for the patient, and it can make it difficult for the dentist to do their work. That’s why we have dental sedation.
What Is Dental Sedation?
Dental sedation is sometimes referred to as sleep dentistry, but that doesn’t really reflect what it is, as the patient is normally awake during the procedure, unless, in certain circumstances, they’ve been given general anaesthesia, in which case they will be out like a light and won’t remember a thing. Usually, however, such deep sedation is not required.
Dental sedation uses medication to make you feel relaxed, and it’s often given via a gas that’s inhaled (the infamous “laughing gas“, which is nitrous oxide). The benefit is that it wears off quickly, so you’ll have no difficulties when your procedure is over and might even be able to drive yourself home or back to work — it’s the only such form of dental sedation where this is possible.
Dental sedation may also be given orally — usually as a pill that’s taken around an hour before the procedure is scheduled to begin. The amount of oral sedation you take will depend on your dentist’s appraisal of your level of anxiety, and generally, you can expect to feel a bit sleepy or groggy, but you’ll remain awake while you’re in the dentist’s chair — if you do happen to nod off, you might be given a gentle shake to wake up. Your dentist might also give you dental sedation through an IV, as it’s effective straight away and they can control the amount you’re getting.
What Else to Expect with Dental Sedation?
Just because you’re relaxed and possibly sleepy because you’ve been given dental sedation doesn’t mean you won’t feel anything during your procedure. So, depending on what you’re having done, it’s likely you will also need local anaesthesia at the site where the work is being carried out to ensure you don’t feel any pain.
If you’re wondering if there are any risks with dental sedation, the answer is that there are risks involved with any type of anaesthesia — but when properly administered, and with the patient monitored throughout, it’s generally safe to have it. As with anything concerning your wellbeing, you should discuss your medical history in detail with your dentist before having dental sedation or anything else.
Then you can lie back and dream of a sunny day at the beach and let all your fears fade away as the dentist gets to work.
If you experience anxiety ahead of a dental appointment and would like to have a more comfortable time during an upcoming procedure, contact The James Clinic today and we will be happy to discuss dental sedation options with you.