We all know how important it is to keep up with your regular dental checkups but it’s not always that simple. There are many reasons that someone may put off or avoid dental work like anxiety, pain or gag reflex, but there are things you can do to help make your trip to the dentist a little bit easier.
What is Sedation Dentistry?
Sedation dentistry involves giving the patient varying amounts of medication to help relax them during their procedure. In most cases, sedation is administered either in the form of a mild, inhaled sedative like nitrous oxide or by taking a pill, such as Valium, orally. In more severe cases IV or general anesthesia may be considered.
Levels of sedation range from minimal to general anesthesia. Minimal sedation typically uses nitrous oxide to “take the edge off” but you will remain completely awake. With moderate sedation, you will still be awake but a little less aware of your surroundings, you may also slur your words. Deep sedation will have you semi-conscious, you may drift in and out of sleep but can be easily woken up. With general anesthesia you are completely unconscious, this is the type of sedation given for surgeries.
If dental anxiety is what’s keeping you away, sedation dentistry can be a great option. Dentists can prescribe anti-anxiety meds and/or recommend the use of a mild sedative, like nitrous oxide so that you are still fully conscious but can feel more relaxed.
If you require more intensive dental work or have debilitating anxiety that doesn’t respond to minimal sedation, something like deep sedation or even general anesthesia may be considered. While it may be difficult to work up to making that phone call, talking to a dentist that specializes in sedation dentistry like the ones at Dentistry on the Q about your anxiety and concerns can help them customize a treatment plan that works for you and allows you to take good care of yourself and your teeth.
Controlling Gag Reflex
If you struggle with a sensitive gag reflex, the dentist can be your worst nightmare. However, there are ways of making dentistry easier for you with the use of mild sedatives. Nitrous oxide or oral medication like anti-anxiety meds can help relax which in turn can help manage your gag reflex. In severe cases, deeper sedation may be considered.
Lots of Dental Work at Once
It can be overwhelming to have to get multiple procedures done at once. In these cases, dentists that specialize in sedation dentistry will often opt for mild or moderate sedation to help the patient remain relaxed during what can sometimes be hours-long dental work.
If more dental work is needed like multiple root canals or in-office “oral surgery” then deep sedation or general anesthesia may be the better option as it can be painful and also difficult to sit still and keep your mouth open for hours at a time.
Trauma or Triggers
Trauma is a difficult experience to understand and manage, those who have dealt with trauma often have no control over what may trigger a trauma response, flashback, panic, etc. Whether or not the trauma was related to previous dental experiences, the dentist inherently comes with a lot of things that can be triggers for those who have experienced certain traumas – medical tools, invasive nature of the work, etc.
If you find that you experience a trigger when at the dentist, you don’t need to avoid all future dental work, there are options. First and foremost, you should be working with a qualified therapist and doctor to address your trauma, but at the dentistry level sedation may allow you to get the required dental work and check-ups that keep you healthy. Sedation may relax you enough or if necessary, render you partially or fully unconscious, so that you can avoid or minimize triggers when at the dentist. Work with your dentist to create a plan and experience that works for you – if your triggers relate to items or things that are necessary for treatment, your dentist will likely be happy to remove those triggers to make you more comfortable.
Sedation dentistry can help remove the barriers to dental work that may appear with those that experience dental anxiety, or trauma and help make the procedures more comfortable for those with a sensitive gag reflex or that require a lot or more severe dental work. If you are experiencing any barriers or concerns surrounding visiting the dentist, find a qualified sedation dentist, and talk to them about your concerns.
Read Also: Your Guide to the Different Dentist Types