Dental Tips Blog


Painless Anxiety Free Sedation Dentistry

If you are one of the millions of Americans who endure even the simplest dental procedures with a white-knuckle grip on the arms of the dental chair, you should know that painless, anxiety free dentistry is a reality in modern dentistry.  These days, most dentists offer some form of sedation dentistry that can provide a comfortable dental experience.

Sedation dentistry offered at your dentist’s office usually involves either oral sedatives or intravenous sedatives.  Each type of sedation dentistry has advantages and disadvantages.  For both oral and intravenous sedatives, you will be very relaxed and drowsy during the dental procedure and may even fall asleep.  You will never lose consciousness and can always be awoken to respond to questions.  Many patients are surprised at how quickly time passes and most don’t even remember having the procedure.

Once the sedative has taken effect, you will be given a local anesthetic to numb the area around the tooth.  Your dentist will use a topical numbing agent at the site of the injection and you will probably not feel a thing.  Throughout the procedure, you will feel no pain and experience no anxiety or fear.

Many patients prefer the convenience of oral sedatives.  Your dentist will give you a sedative to take shortly before your appointment so you will need someone to drive you to and from your appointment.  One problem with oral sedatives is that the lack of control over the sedation level and timing.  Everyone responds a little differently to oral sedatives and if there is a delay before getting treated, the sedative might start to wear off.

Intravenous (IV) sedatives eliminate the control issues.  Your dentist can adjust the dosage as needed to maintain the appropriate level of sedation throughout the procedure.  However, some patients don’t like having the IV.


Benefits of Oral Sedation

Many people suffer from dental anxiety or dental phobia.  Estimates vary, but about 10 to 15 percent of Americans avoid going to the dentist entirely due to fear or anxiety about dental treatment.  Of those  Americans who do get regular dental care, a large percentage have anxiety and fear that results in a dental procedure that is much more uncomfortable than it needs to be, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Mild to moderate dental anxiety can be easily addressed with oral sedatives that put the patient into a deeply relaxed state.  Oral sedatives have much less risk than general anesthesia and the dental procedure can be completed in the dentist’s office rather than in an operating room.

Most oral sedation dentistry patients report that the dental procedure went by very quickly and they cannot remember most of it.  They typically are so relaxed that they do not feel the injection of local anesthetic.  The combination of oral sedatives and local anesthetic results in a dental procedure that is virtually painless and is free of anxiety or fear.

Even though patients cannot generally remember the procedure, they are conscious during the procedure and can respond to commands and answer questions.  Patients do not lose consciousness with oral sedation although some patients will doze during the dental procedure.

Oral sedation is a very safe way for dental patients to address anxiety about dental procedures.  It helps motivate dental patients with mild to moderate dental anxiety to have regular dental care.  If you are one of the millions of Americans who dreads going to the dentist, talk to your dentist about the benefits of oral sedation.


Help For Dental Anxiety and Dental Phobia

Very few people actually look forward to a visit to the dentist (except maybe to get those braces off).  In fact, the percentage of American adults who experience some anxiety or fear of the dentist has been estimated as high as 75%.  Most dental patients are able to deal with their anxiety and tolerate dental most procedures with local numbing agents in relative comfort.

Some patients have a stronger reaction to dental care and are uncomfortable throughout the procedure.  Not only does the patient suffer, but the procedure will be more difficult when the patient is noticeably uncomfortable.

Finally there are patients that who are so adverse to dental care that they avoid it at all costs.  These patients are said to have dental phobia.  By avoiding dental care, these patients end up exactly where they don’t want to be – in the dentist’s chair.  Because they have been avoiding dental care for so long, their oral health is poor and they are prone to needing extensive dental care which is what they were avoiding in the first place.

Fortunately, there is relief available for all types of patients.  Most dentists offer mild sedation in the form of nitrous oxide or “laughing gas.”  For patients with mild anxiety, nitrous oxide will put them in a relaxed state similar to being intoxicated.

Patients with a stronger aversion to dentistry may need to seek out a dentist with additional training in conscious sedation techniques.  This usually involves oral sedatives that are stronger than nitrous oxide, but the patient is still conscious.

Finally, patients with severe dental anxiety or dental phobia should consult with a dentist specially trained in sleep sedation dentistry.  These dentists have extensive training in conscious sedation using intravenous sedatives and fully unconscious sedation.

No matter what level of dental anxiety or dental fear you have, there are dentists specially trained in various sedation options who can help you get the dental care you need.


Conquering Mild Dental Anxiety

If you have been avoiding your dentist due to dental anxiety, you will be happy to find out that dentists offer a wide range of sedation that can help you conquer that dental anxiety and provide you with a comfortable, stress free dental experience.  Dental anxiety is very common and it is believed that about 15% of the population has some form of dental anxiety.  It can range from being anxious and tense throughout your dental treatment to a full blown dental phobia which causes patients to become terrified at even the thought of going to the dentists.

Patients with severe dental anxiety or dental phobia are probably better off seeing a dentist that specializes in sleep and sedation dentistry, but mild to moderate dental anxiety can usually be addressed by most dentists.

Communication with your dentist is critical.  Unless your dentist knows about your anxiety, he or she cannot help you.  Don’t be shy or embarrassed about bringing up the subject with your dentist.  As mentioned previously, dental anxiety is very common and your dentist wants you to have a good dental experience.

Many dentists practice sedation dentistry using nitrous oxide to help patients with mild to moderate dental anxiety.  Nitrous oxide or “laughing gas” is administered through a small mask while the patient is in the dental chair.  It works quickly to relax the patient and the effect is similar to being mildly intoxicated.  The patient is calm and relaxed and can easily tolerate the dental procedure.

An advantage of nitrous oxide is that it wears off quickly after the procedure is completed.  The patient can drive themselves home from the appointment without any problems.  Side effects are rare, but some patients may experience nausea.


Levels of Sedation

Sedation dentistry is an excellent way for many patients who either avoid dental care or are physically unable to receive dental care in a traditional setting to get the dental care they need.  Patients suffering from dental anxiety, special needs patients, those who cannot get numb with Novocain, severe gag reflex, and other patients whose have physical or mental challenges that make it difficult or impossible to sit still in the dentist chair.

Sedation dentistry can be a little confusing for dental patients.  Sedation dentistry can cover everything from the mildest level of sedation such as nitrous oxide or mild oral sedatives to full unconscious sedation.  Sedation levels should be thought of as a continuous sliding scale of sedation rather than distinct levels.

The mildest level of sedation is meant to simply relax the patient and relieve some anxiety.  Nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and mild oral sedatives that most dental practices offer to their patients.   Stronger oral sedatives produce a moderate level of sedation.

Intravenous sedation produces a drowsy, very relaxed state with some suppression of pain as well.  Intravenous sedation is easier to control than oral sedation by adjusting the amount of sedative.  Patients are conscious and can respond to questions though in many cases the patient will doze off during the procedure.  Patients usually do not remember having the procedure.

Full unconscious sedation is the safest and most humane alternative for some dental patients.  Dental procedures under full unconscious sedation are performed in a specially equipped surgical suite with the assistance of an anesthesiologist.

Most dentists can offer the mildest forms of sedations, but dentists who practice intravenous sedation and full unconscious sedation have received extensive specialized training in sleep and sedation dentistry.


Benefits of Sedation Dentistry

Are you one of the millions of Americans who avoid getting much needed dental care because just the thought of going to the dentist fills you with dread and fear?  Or maybe you are or are a caregiver for a special needs patient who cannot tolerate traditional dental care due to physical limitations.  Fortunately, sedation dentistry offers a solution that allows dental anxiety patients and special needs patients to get the dental care they need.

Traditional dentistry relies on the use of Novocain and similar local anesthetics to numb the area of your mouth where the dental work is performed.  Sedation dentistry takes it to the next level by providing intravenous sedation in addition to local anesthetic that relaxes the patient and provides a comfortable, anxiety free dental experience.

Depending on the needs of the patient, a dentist who practices sedation dentistry can administer different levels of sedation from mild sedation to deep sedation.  With mild levels of sedation, the patient is very relaxed but conscious and can respond to questions and communicate with the dentist.  At deeper levels of sedation the patient will fall asleep, but can be awoken.  The deepest level of sedation is full, unconscious sedation.  This is sometimes called hospital sleep dentistry because the dental procedure is often performed in a specially equipped surgical suite or hospital operating room.

Sedation dentistry is a safe, effective way for many patients to get much needed dental care who would otherwise compromise their health by avoiding the dentist altogether.  Only a few dentists have the special training needed to practice sedation dentistry.  For more information and to find out if sedation dentistry is right for you, talk to a dentist in your area who practices sedation dentistry.


Safe, Comfortable Sleep and Sedation Dentistry

Sleep and sedation dentistry provides the most comfortable, relaxed, pain free dental experience possible.  Sleep dentistry and sedation dentistry are similar, but there are some significant differences.  The primary goal of both sleep and sedation dentistry is to provide patients a safe, comfortable, painless, and anxiety free dental care experience.

In sedation dentistry, the patient is given oral or IV sedatives and enters a drowsy, relaxed state.  Many patients are so relaxed that they doze off during the dental procedure. However, the patient is conscious and can be aroused and respond to questions. Patients generally don’t remember much about the procedure afterwards.

IV sedatives are preferred because it is easier for the dentist to control the level of sedation by adjusting the flow of the sedative.  It is difficult to predict exactly how a patient will be affected by oral sedatives.  The sedative may wear off too early or the patient may be too sedated or not sedated enough.

In sleep dentistry, the patient is placed under general anesthesia.  The patient is unconscious and has no memory of the dental procedure at all.  Sleep dentistry is a safe and effective way to treat many patients who cannot tolerate traditional dental cares.  This includes patients with severe dental anxiety, panic disorder, or dental phobia, patients who cannot get numb with local anesthetics, and special needs patients.

Sleep and sedation dentistry is also an excellent solution for lengthy procedures or handling multiple procedures in one visit.  Handling all of the necessary procedures in a single visit can be a real time saver for busy working patients.


The New Look of Dental Care

If you are like most people, you have a pretty good idea of what to expect at a traditional dentists office:  a mildly pleasant waiting room with lots of magazines, maybe a few plants, and some innocuous artwork.  In the back, the treatment areas are clean, but businesslike.

In recent years, the trend in decorating dental offices has been toward making the waiting area and work areas as soothing and inviting as possible.  There is good science behind this trend – millions of Americans suffer from some level of dental anxiety and the more pleasant their experience at the dentist’s office is, the more likely they will be to return for needed dental care.

In addition, dental anxiety tends to build as a patient waits to be seen.  A soothing environment from the moment they enter the office helps minimize dental anxiety and makes the procedure go more smoothly.

Some dental offices are taking this concept to the next level by providing an atmosphere that is almost like going to the spa instead of going to the dentist.  The range of amenities that can be offered at the dentist’s office is almost unlimited.  They include fresh juices, cookies, warm blankets, high definition TV’s, and wifi.  Noise cancelling headphones are a nice touch – they minimize the traditional noises associated with dentistry such as the whine of the drill.  Soothing music and pleasant aromas help make the experience more pleasant.

For a different dental experience, try a dental practice with a spa like atmosphere.  Who knows, you may find that you even enjoy going to the dentist!


How Does Intravenous (IV) Sedation Work?

An estimated 40 to 50 million Americans suffer from some degree of dental anxiety.  These patients may have had a bad experience at the dentist, they may be afraid of needles, or they may be self conscious about their oral health.  Whatever the reason, if you are one of these patients you should know that you are not alone.  It is very common to have some anxiety about any dental procedure.

Fortunately, sleep and sedation dentistry is now available that can provide many patients with a painless, anxiety free dental experience.  Your dentist may have recommended that you have intravenous sedation, or you may have heard that is a great way to get the dental care you need safely and comfortably.

Unlike novocain that is injected to numb the area of the mouth where the dental procedure will be performed, intravenous sedation is used to calm and relax the patient.  Some dentists use oral sedatives, but intravenous (IV) sedation is much easier for your dentist to control the level and duration of the sedation.

Your dentist will administer the IV sedation which takes effect very quickly.  You will be conscious, but in a drowsy, very relaxed state.  After the sedative takes effect, novocain will be injected to block pain sensations, but you will probably not feel the novacain injection or even remember the procedure.

Throughout the procedure your blood pressure and blood oxygen level will be monitored and the effect can be quickly reversed if needed.  IV sedation is safely administered to millions of dental patients every year with excellent results.


True Sleep and Sedation Dentistry

Many dentists advertise that they offer “sedation dentistry” but only a few dentists offer true sleep and sedation dentistry.  There are various levels of sedation used in dentistry.  The mildest form of sedation is nitrous oxide, often called “laughing gas”.  Nitrous oxide provides temporary feelings of relaxation and helps reduce anxiety.  The patient is fully conscious, can easily respond to questions, and is aware of what is going on around them.

The next level is mild sedation using oral medications.  The medication is usually taken before the patient arrives at the dentist’s office and he patient is very relaxed and drowsy.  Sometimes the patient will fall asleep during the dental procedure, but can be easily aroused to answer questions.  Most patients have limited memory of the treatment.

Most dentists only provide these first two levels of sedation.  However, a few sleep and sedation dentists have completed extensive training and can offer additional levels of sedation.  Intravenous sedation is administered in the dentist’s office and the level of sedation can be controlled during the procedure.  The patient is conscious, but in most cases sleeps through the procedure and has no memory of it afterward.

Dentistry under general anesthesia is the deepest level of sedation.  The patient is unconscious and fully sedated throughout the procedure.  Dentistry under general anesthesia is performed in a surgical suite either at a hospital or in the dentist’s office.  The patient has no memory of the procedure.

Talk to your dentist about the right level of sedation for you and your dental care needs.  If you need true sleep sedation, make sure your dentist has the necessary qualifications.

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