How to Ease Your Anxieties Using Dental Sedation
For many patients with dental anxieties, sedation is the only way they can face procedures for their teeth. With dental sedation, patients can respond to their dentists’ commands while minimizing the chances of remembering the procedure.
Sedation has become a common part of many major dental procedures, such as root canals or wisdom tooth extractions. But dentists are increasingly also offering it to people who might otherwise be too anxious to get checkups or other important care.
If you feel that the right dentist and psychological techniques alone won’t do the trick for you, have a look at the available pharmacological options for coping with dental anxiety.
These are not recommended for use instead of, but in addition to a caring dentist. Trust your gut instinct while figuring out which methods might work for you. Sedation is sometimes touted as “the solution for overcoming dental anxiety or phobia”, but in reality, many people don’t like the idea of sedation. Scores on dental anxiety tests bear little or no correlation to the need for (or desirability of) sedation.
Sedation is not for Procedures but for Patients
it is not recommended that sedation be analyzed according to procedures, but for patients. Some patients require sedation for almost any treatment, others prefer it for long duration of treatment or something that they find unpleasant.
As a rule of thumb, IV is for people who want to know nothing about the treatment and be as “out of it” as possible. The disadvantage is that they need escorted home and watched for at least the next 6 hrs. Nitrous Oxide is for people who are a bit nervous, it calms them down nicely and is a fairly effective painkiller. It’s fantastic for older children and properly done almost guarantees painless dentistry.
Some dentists combine nitrous with IV for proper needle phobics, for whom desensitisation doesn’t work.
General aesthetic is a last resort. There are many procedures that can’t be really be done under GA and there is always the risk of death. I always get a bit nervous before a GA clinic and I’ve been doing them for a long time now.” (Gordon Laurie, BDS)
You Should Try Sedation If You:
- don’t want to be aware of what’s happening during a procedure and you want to be “out of it”. In this case, IV sedation is the method of choice.
- want a little help to relax – “laughing gas” can give you a pleasant relaxed feeling
- have a “gut feeling” that sedation would help you and allow you to get work done which otherwise you wouldn’t be able to tolerate
- have a procedure-specific fear (e. g. needles, extractions), especially if you know that the fear would still exist in the presence of an empathetic dentist and adequate pain-control perceive your fears to be completely irrational and not helped by either an empathetic dentist or psychological techniques
- have other mental health problems and you feel you’d benefit from sedation
- aim “to get your teeth fixed” as quickly as possible, for example because you’re very busy or you’ve got an important social event coming up
- it’s an invasive or unpleasant procedure such as more complex extractions
Sedation May Not be the Best Option if:
- control and trust are a major issue for you
- you’re considering sedation to “make life easier” for your dentist, for example because you fear that they will get frustrated or angry with you
- you feel you would benefit from a gentle approach which would involve being talked through procedures, going at your pace, and using stop signals
- you feel you’re being “bullied” into accepting sedation
- you have an intense dislike for or fear of the drugs used for sedation (or the psych pharmaceutical industry in general)
- you’re worried that sedation will interfere with your judgment and your ability to communicate your concerns to your dentist.
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