Nobody really enjoys going to the dentist, but for some people, the thought of a visit to the dentist causes such intense panic that they resign themselves to avoiding the dentist completely. If an overwhelming fear has been causing you to put off your next visit to the dentist, then you might want to consider sedation dentistry.
It can be difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of a person’s fear of the dentist, but there are certainly a number of disconcerting factors involved with even a standard cleaning. From bad tastes and smells to the sensation of being poked and prodded in the mouth, the idea of avoiding the dentist altogether is an understandable escape. Some people are just plain afraid of any and all medical procedures, including those that are completely routine. Other people have sensitive teeth and gums, which can make even a regular dental cleaning uncomfortable bordering on painful. There are also those people who have naturally sensitive gag reflexes and tend to feel like they’re choking or can’t breathe as long as their mouths are being worked on.
While there are plenty of reasons to submit to the fear and avoid the dentist, that approach will only cause issues in the long run. A dental cleaning is recommended every six months to maintain proper oral hygiene. The longer you put off going to the dentist, the more tooth-related issues you are bound to have down the road. It’s a good thing that sedation dentistry is becoming increasingly popular – and available – by the day.
The idea behind sedation dentistry is that instead of working to tackle your fear of the dentist, you can simply eliminate it courtesy of a nice dose of your favorite anti-anxiety drug such as Halcion or Valium. When used as prescribed, these medications are quite safe and do not cause any long-term effects.
With sedation dentistry, a pill is taken about an hour or two before the dental appointment so that by the time you’re ready to head out, you’ll be too relaxed – and loopy – to panic your way into canceling. Since this initial dose is likely to cause extreme grogginess, you’ll need to ask a friend or family member to transport you to and from the dentist’s office. Additional anti-anxiety medication may then be administered at the dentist’s office on as-needed basis. Your dentist will make that determination based on a number of factors, including how well the initial dose has kicked in and how long the appointment is expected to take.
During sedation dentistry, the patient retains consciousness throughout the process. Although sedation dentistry is often referred to as sleep dentistry, the patients involved are actually not asleep, but rather in extremely relaxed, sedated states. They are still able to respond to questions and instructions from the dentist, though they have little to no recollection of the procedure once it is over.
Thanks to the wonders of sedation dentistry, many formerly dental phobic patients are now walking around with healthy mouths and clean smiles, and many current patients are slowly coming around to embrace the option of an experience at the dentist’s office that is not only painless, but rather forgettable.
Of course, not everyone is a fan of this latest craze. Some medical professionals are opposed to the idea of sedation dentistry, warning that dentists are too quick to administer drugs and that patients can easily become over-sedated.
Because patients metabolize pills differently, the effects of the initial dosage are not always immediately recognized. When a patient arrives for an appointment, it might appear as though he is not adequately sedated, and the dentist might elect to increase the dosage prior to the procedure. However, some dentists are too quick to make this determination and do not allow enough time for the initial dose to kick in. The result is an over-sedated patient that must be closely watched. However, as part of the sedation dentistry process, a trained professional is always on-hand to monitor the patient’s vital signs throughout the sedation period. For your own comfort, do not be afraid to ask your dentist about his training and experience in sedation dentistry.
Another thing to be aware of is that sleep dentistry can come with a cost. While most dental insurance companies will cover the dental work itself, they can be rather stingy when it comes to the sedation aspect since technically-speaking, it is rarely medically necessary. While most dentists will work with you to keep sedation costs to a minimum, remember that you are not only paying for the drugs themselves, but for the cost of patient monitoring throughout the procedure. However, given the importance of proper dental care and the discomfort that often comes with it, can you really put a price tag on peace of mind?