Millions of Americans avoid going to the dentist for a number of reasons including financial and preconceived need. But 9% to 15%, or around 40 million American adults, simply put of professional dental care due to fear and anxiety. It’s normal to have some fear of the unknown, and there’s plenty of mystery inside the dentist’s office. But when that fear advances and takes control of your sensibilities leaving in its wake irrational worries, panic attacks, and a terrifying loss of self-control, that anxiety transforms into a phobia. And that is quite different. Fortunately, sedation dentistry can help even those suffering from cases of debilitating dental fear. But what’s wrong with a little dental fear and how can another type of dentistry help?
What’s the Big Deal About Having a Dental Phobia?
Many people believe dental fear or anxiety is the same as a dental phobia, but they’re often like night and day. Those with a true dental phobia often cite helplessness, discomfort, and fear as their main reasons to avoid treatment. But many people will go so far out of their way to avoid the dentist that they’ll deal with ongoing embarrassment over broken teeth and cavities. They’ll often suffer intense pain from untreated conditions such as gingivitis, toothaches, loose fillings, or even pending root canals. And feeling forced to visit a dentist or even make an appointment may cause physical illness, severe stress, and even dangerously strong heart palpitations. Those suffering from such intense fear can’t possibly handle traditional dentistry options. But sedation dentistry can help.
What’s So Special About Sedation Dentistry?
Sedation dentistry isn’t another type or branch of dentistry. It’s not some fly-by-night magic pill or guru trick. But it is a special medical procedure intended to tackle and relieve the crippling anxiety and fear that keeps so many from getting the dental care they so desperately need. Sedation dentistry uses medication to help patients relax enough to have necessary work completed. It is often called “Sleep dentistry”, but that’s not an accurate description. In most cases, the patients are awake. However, in severe situations, general anesthesia may lull the patient to sleep. Depending on the procedure and sensitivity of the patient, pain medication may be administered or prescribed afterward.
What Types of Sedation is Used and Who Can Benefit from Sedation Dentistry?
Sedation dentistry can use multiple types of medication for relaxation and anxiety control. Minimal sedation can be in the form of inhalation. Nitrous oxide or “laughing gas” is usually the medication of choice for this method. Moderate sedation, such as Halcion or Valium, can be in pill form taken an hour prior to the procedure or in IV form. Deep sedation, however, involves combined medications that make the patient almost or completely unconscious and only wear off once the procedure is over.
Sedation dentistry isn’t just for those with severe fear or anxiety. It may also be appropriate for those with a low pain threshold or those who can’t sit still for long. If you have a strong gag reflex or have overly sensitive teeth, SD may help. And patients in need of a large amount of dental work can definitely benefit from dental relaxants. A call to your Fort Lauderdale dentist can help you decide if sedation dentistry is right for your needs.