Few people relish the prospect of a trip to the dental office. While it’s only natural to be somewhat apprehensive about any medical consultation or treatment, a visit to the dentist can strike fear into some patients, as they fret about possible discomfort and being in a position of vulnerability.

The one sure way to help nervous patients to relax during a dental procedure is sedation dentistry.  With dental sedation, the patient is given a drug before or during the dental work.  Only one form of sedation dentistry renders you unconscious – general anaesthesia. Other levels of sedation can be minimal, moderate or deep.

But how do you decide which type of sedation dentistry is right for you?  With the help of Lancaster Dental’s Kitchener Dental Office, we’ve come up with this handy overview of sedation dentistry…

Intravenous Sedatives

Intravenous (IV) sedation is used as a general anaesthetic but can also induce various degrees of consciousness in which the patient becomes less aware of what’s going on and will probably remember little about the procedure afterwards. Because the sedative is administered into a vein, it gets to work quickly, and the levels can be easily adjusted.

Oral Sedation

Minimal or moderate dental sedation through simply taking a pill – typically Halcion (triazolam) or Valium (diazepam) – is ideal for people who fear needles (belonephobia). An oral sedative costs less than intravenous sedation and has fewer side effects.

Inhalation Sedation

In some cases, inhalation sedation (nitrous oxide –laughing gas) can be an alternative to oral conscious sedation. The gas helps you to relax during the procedure but then wears off quickly.

Deep Sedation and General Anaesthesia

These methods of sedation render the patient almost or entirely unconscious. You will remain asleep until the effects wear off or are reversed with medication.

When Unease Turns into Phobia

While sedation provides an attractive option for nervous patients, it is imperative if your level of anxiety has reached the extent of dental phobia (odontophobia).

The line between apprehension and phobia can be blurred, but odontophobia is likely to worsen over time, without professional help. If you become panic-stricken at the thought of dental treatment, your dentist may be able to refer you to a mental health specialist.

Causes of Dental Anxiety

Reasons why people develop dental anxieties include fear of pain, feelings of loss of control, and embarrassment (your mouth is an intimate part of your body). You should also ask your dentist about sedation dentistry if you have had bad prior experiences with dental treatment, your mouth is particularly sensitive, you are resistant to local anaesthetic, or you suffer from general anxiety.

If you fall into one of the above categories, dental sedation can help you get through treatments such as tooth extractions, root canal work, and dental implants. If your levels of anxiety are particularly high, your dentist may also consider sedation for routine work such as cleaning and X-rays.

If you are fortunate enough that a visit to the dentist doesn’t bother you that much, you will for most treatments probably only require a local anaesthetic injected into the gums to numb your mouth.

More information about oral sedation and nitrous oxide is available from Lancaster Dental, your Kitchener Dentist.

If you need further advice on dental sedation, contact Lancaster Dental.