While very few people jump for joy when they realize it's time to visit the dentist, some people get so anxious or nervous that they may put regular dental visits off entirely, even when they desperately need dental work.
Some dentists offer sedation dentistry to patients who have anxiety, sensory sensitivities, dental phobia, or other issues that make it difficult for them to handle dentist appointments. Sedation is often inhaled in the form of nitrous oxide, which helps relax patients or offered in the form of an oral medication, such as Valium.
IV and general anesthesia are sometimes available for certain procedures.
One of the biggest benefits of sedation dentistry is the anxiety relief patients feel when they undergo dental examinations and other procedures. For many patients, the fear or anxiety they experience at the dentist is the sole reason they seek sedation options.
Many patients are still awake and able to communicate while under sedation, but the medication relaxes the body and mind to make it easier for patients to remain calm and still.
Gag Reflex Reduction
Some patients have trouble controlling their gag reflexes when undergoing dental examinations or procedures, especially ones that require the dentist to work on the back teeth or other areas deep in the mouth. Not only is gagging uncomfortable for patients, but it can also injure the soft tissues in the mouth or damage teeth if a gag causes the dentist to slip with a tool.
Sedation prior to dental work can paralyze the gag reflex, which minimizes the risk of damage or injury during delicate procedures.
Sedatives used by dentists can cause amnesia, which is desirable for many patients who experience strong anxiety or have a phobia of the dentist. Since you won't remember any new discomfort or frightening experiences while under sedation, you won't have a traumatic experience that furthers your fear.
Over time, sedation dentistry can help some patients overcome dental fear and anxiety entirely.
Faster Dental Procedures
When your body, including your mouth, is relaxed, your dentist will be able to work more quickly and efficiently. Strong sedatives ease any pain or discomfort you would normally feel, allowing you to sit in the dentist's chair for longer appointments.
Sedation dentistry can save you money if you're able to have multiple issues handled in a single appointment under sedation that would have otherwise required separate appointments.
If you experience anxiety, gagging, or other types of discomfort when you visit the dentist, ask about sedation dentistry as an option for your next appointment.