If you hate going to the dentist, you’re not alone. Dental anxiety affects millions of people, even those who are not normally anxious or nervous about things in general. If you don’t believe that dental anxiety is a common problem, just ask a dentist. They know better than anyone that any normal person can become a mass of nerves when sitting in a dental chair.
Unfortunately, many people avoid going to the dentist altogether because of their fears. Sometimes the problem is a lack of communication. Typically, a person who is afraid of seeing a dentist is embarrassed by their fear and unwilling to discuss it with a dentist, or they perhaps fear insulting the dentist. It isn’t just fear of pain that keeps people away. Sometimes they fear being embarrassed by their bad teeth or being lectured by the dentist. Some people know they have a gag reflex and fear embarrassment because of it.
Whatever the reason for the fear, dental anxiety keeps too many people from seeing a dentist regularly for checkups or even when they have a problem that requires treatment.
The good news is that dentists are aware of this problem and have methods to help people relax during their appointments. This is called sedation dentistry, and while it may sound like it refers to being put to sleep during an exam, it encompasses a range of sedation options starting with very mild sedation.
General anesthesia that puts a patient to sleep is reserved for surgical procedures or intensive procedures like multiple or complicated tooth extractions. But milder methods of sedation are available for any dental procedure. The mildest form is oral sedation, which means you take pills that will calm your anxiety and help you relax during your appointment. A step up from this is moderate sedation that keeps you calm and also makes you sleepy. You will remain awake but feel very relaxed. This is most often accomplished with the use of nitrous oxide, which is also called laughing gas. Nitrous oxide is inhaled through a mask that is placed over your face, and the amount is continuously monitored by the dentist throughout the procedure. The reason this continues to be the most popular form of dental sedation is because it is easy to take, very effective, and it wears off quickly. When you choose nitrous oxide for sedation, it wears off so quickly that you can drive after your appointment.
Sedation dentistry can mean the difference between having regular dental exams and never seeing a dentist until you have a problem – a situation that often makes anxiety worse. If you don’t see the dentist regularly due to dental fear or anxiety, call Kettleman Dental Care now and ask about sedation dentistry.