GETTING OVER (OR AT LEAST THROUGH) DENTAL FEARS AND ANXIETY
Public speaking, heights, bugs, small spaces, and visiting the dentist. These are some of the most common fears Americans have. Although we can't help you with the first four, our team at DentalWorks - Wake Forest would like to help you conquer your fear of going to the dentist. Maybe a bad experience with a procedure or dentist has kept you from returning for your bi-annual cleanings and annual oral health examination. No matter what has been keeping you from visiting a dentist in Wake Forest, NC or preventive care or to treat dental pain, sedation dentistry may be able to help. This article explains some of your sedation dentistry options, who is a good candidate, plus what to expect before and after your appointment.
TYPES OF DENTAL SEDATION
The majority of dental practices in Wake Forest, NC use three types for sedation — oral-conscious medication, nitrous oxide gas, and IV (intravenous) sedation. One or a combination of methods might be recommended based on your needs and the procedure being performed. Local anesthesia may also be added to numb the area being treated if you are receiving an invasive procedure.
- NITROUS OXIDE SEDATION
More commonly called "laughing gas," nitrous oxide sedation is used to relax patients at the dentist. The nitrous oxide gas is inhaled through a nasal hood during the procedure. This sedation is ideal to ease anxiety during cleanings and examinations as well as some treatments (such as a tooth-colored filling to treat a cavity or SRP therapy to treat gingivitis). Unlike oral-conscious sedation, the level of gas can be adjusted during the treatment as needed. The sedation wears off as soon as the gas is stopped. Nitrous oxide sedation may be used with local anesthesia as well as stronger types of sedation. The majority of people can tolerate nitrous oxide sedation and can drive themselves home after their appointment.
- IV (INTRAVENOUS) SEDATION
Based on the type of medication used, IV (intravenous) sedation can be either moderate or deep. IV sedation puts the medication straight into your bloodstream, which means this isn't a good choice if you are afraid of needles. Intravenous sedation is most often used for invasive procedures (for example, implant surgery or a surgical tooth extraction). The amount of medication can be adjusted during the procedure and patients typically come out of the sedation quickly once the medication is stopped. You need to arrange for a friend or family member to take you home after your procedure and should spend the rest of the day recovering.
- ORAL-CONSCIOUS SEDATION
Sometimes called enteral sedation, oral-conscious sedation uses a prescription medication taken prior to your appointment to help you relax. Based on your needs and what procedure you are getting, your dentist will prescribe the appropriate medication type and amount. Oral-conscious sedation will allow you to be awake, but relaxed and comfortable. Some patients may fall into a light sleep, but they can be gently awakened after their procedure. Oral-conscious sedation may be used to ease anxiety during normal cleanings and oral health examinations or combined with local anesthesia to help you get through minor procedures (for example, gum surgery or a root canal). When you receive oral-conscious sedation, you'll need to have a responsible adult take you to and from the dentist's office.
WHO IS A CANDIDATE FOR SEDATION?
Prior to administering sedation, your dentist will schedule a consultation to determine what method of sedation is best for your needs and can be safely used. You should talk to your dental team regarding your medical history, if you have or had a serious medical condition, if you have any allergies, and medications you take (this includes prescription medications, as well as over-the-counter vitamins, herbs, and supplements). It is important to be open and honest to avoid interactions and side effects. In this consultation, your dentist will give you their sedation recommendations and, if you're approved, what you need to do prior to and following your sedation. Typically, pregnant women are advised to avoid sedation and procedures.
BEFORE SEDATION DENTISTRY
To avoid common side effects, like nausea, it is recommended that you eat a small meal before your appointment if you're getting nitrous oxide gas or before you take your prescribed oral-conscious medication. If you are getting IV sedation, you might be asked to fast for eight hours prior to your appointment. Your dental team will go over your pre-sedation instruction; however, if you're receiving IV or oral-conscious sedation, you will likely need to have someone bring you to your dentist's office because you won't be allowed to drive home.
It's possible you will recover quickly and easily or you might take a little time based on the method of sedation used. Your dental team should talk to you about what will happen, such as possible side effects and when you can eat again. How fast you recover will also depend on what procedure you had (a simple cleaning probably won't add to your recovery; however, oral surgery will add some time). Be sure to follow your dentist's instructions and look for symptoms of complications or a reaction.
LEARN MORE ABOUT SEDATION DENTISTRY
Now that you know more about sedation dentistry, contact a dentist in Wake Forest, NC to schedule a consultation if you're interested. At DentalWorks - Wake Forest, our team of dental professionals carefully screens patients to make sure they can safely get sedation in their consultative appointment. Your team will review what to expect before, during, and after your appointment to help you feel prepared and comfortable. Our goal is to make your appointments a good experience so you can get regular cleanings and dental examinations without anxiety or fear. Reach out to our office in Wake Forest, NC to meet our team and learn more about your sedation options.