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Could Sedation Curb Your Dental Anxiety?

Posted on January 5th, 2016

Are you afraid of the dentist? Do you experience dental anxiety? If so, how would you describe your anxiety: moderate, high, or severe?

Did you know there is a scale to help you find out?

Researchers have estimated that between 30 and 40 million Americans experience some level of dental anxiety. Some people avoid the dentist completely because of their fear.

If you are one of those people, our team at Atlanta West Dentistry in Marietta wants to help you. We won’t rush you, but we will be there to assist you, one step at a time.

Our hope is that you can get the care you need to keep your mouth healthy for a long, long time. One of the ways we can do that is with sedation dentistry.

Understand Your Fears

If you have dental fear, you may benefit from filling out this two-page questionnaire.

It was developed by Dr. Norman Corah as a way to help patients understand their anxiety. The first page asks general questions about coming to the dentist, such as how you would feel if you had a dental appointment tomorrow or how you feel while sitting in a dentist’s chair.

These answers give you a way to determine if you have moderate, high, or severe dental anxiety.

The second page asks you to think about some of the specific aspects of dentistry. For example, do you become anxious because of the drill? Are you worried about receiving an injection? Are you worried that you might gag?

By completing the questionnaire, you may gain a greater insight into why you feel uncomfortable about going to the dentist.

If you know what bothers you, we encourage you to share that information with us when you call. This can help us help you.

How Sedation Can Help

We offer three types of sedation for our patients at Atlanta West Dentistry. The type of sedation you receive may depend on the severity of your dental fear, or it could change depending on the type of procedure you are receiving.

Here are a few example of how we might use sedation to help you.

For patients who experience moderate dental anxiety, we may recommend nitrous oxide sedation.

Nitrous oxide has been used in dentistry since the 1800s, which should tell you that dental anxiety may not be a new development. Nitrous oxide (“laughing gas”) provides an anesthetic effect, so you won’t feel any pain. It also gives patients a kind of euphoric feeling, so they feel relaxed and calm.

Taking nitrous oxide is as simple as breathing. We place a mask over your nose. You breathe in, and the gas starts taking effect within minutes.

When your procedure is finished, we turn off the gas. As you breathe out any remaining gas, the effects go away. You are good to go, and you can feel happy knowing that you have received dental care.

For patients who experience high dental anxiety, we may recommend oral conscious sedation.

This is more powerful than nitrous oxide, and the effects last much longer. For this reason, you will need someone to drive you to our office and to take you home when your appointment is finished.

If you’d like to hear from a patient who has firsthand experience with oral conscious sedation, we encourage you to watch this video. You can hear him discuss how sedation has helped him.

During oral conscious sedation, you will take medicine before your procedure. This will help you relax before your treatment begins. While you will be conscious (which means you can respond to instructions from the dentist or hygienist), you probably won’t remember anything that happened.

For patients who experience severe dental anxiety, we may use IV sedation instead. IV sedation is the strongest sedation option we offer, and it can only be administered by a licensed professional.

As with oral conscious sedation, you will need someone to drive you home after receiving IV sedation. You will want to rest when you get home as well.

We also use IV sedation for patients who need to undergo longer, more complicated procedures.

Have Questions?

If you are new to sedation dentistry (sometimes referred to as sleep dentistry), then you may have more questions. If you do, our team would be happy to answer them for you.

Call Atlanta West Dentistry at (770) 941-6979 or contact us by filling out our online form.

We look forward to finding out how we can help you get the dental care that you deserve.