Everyone suffers from a fear of something, whether it is spiders, flying or even the fear of household appliances (Oikophobia!). Fear of dental procedure is no different; up to 20% of people avoid going to the dentist altogether because of extreme fear or anxiety. This is often the result of past negative experience in the dental office. You may suffer from symptoms such as not being able to sleep the night before an appointment, feelings of great anxiety and unease in the waiting room, and distress or difficulty breathing at the thought or occurrence of dental procedures. Fear of dental treatments is a major problem that can result in oral damages that can be both painful and potentially dangerous to your overall health. Individuals afflicted with such phobia usually suffer for months, sometimes years before seeking dental treatment, and when they do seek treatment the condition is usually so severe that they cannot escape the pain that they were trying to avoid in the first place – reinforcing their fear of dental treatments.

What if there was a way to get dental treatment without pain or discomfort? What if going to the dentist was like sleeping in your bed? There is a solution to ease the fear and anxiety of “going to the dentist” – it’s sedation dentistry.

Sedation dentistry, in its different forms, is a way for the patients who suffer from dental phobia to have dental work, done in one sitting, in which they are asleep and unaware of any pain or other triggers of their dental fear. This can be essential for their treatment, as feelings of anxiousness can psychologically manifest feelings of pain.

So how does it work? There are a few different options available ranging from nitrous oxide (“laughing gas”), conscious sedation through use of a pill/oral medication to Intravenous (IV) sedation. Each method delivers a different level of sedation. Nitrous oxide, a lighter form of sedation (depending on concentration and length of administration), is more commonly used for children and teenagers, although it can be used for adults as well. Conscious sedation, an oral method, is used for most adults; it provides a higher level of sedation, ideal for more apprehensive clients. The medication used in conscious sedation can be a sedative or a diazepine that leaves you calm while decreasing pain sensations.

With conscious sedation, Dr. Saint Jean says, “Most patients just fall asleep. They don’t even remember anything.” This is ideal for patients who have previously avoided the dentist because of a bad experience. Instead of feeling anxious, under the sedation they feel comfortable, and they are able to preserve and improve the health of their teeth.

There are a few things you should know before undergoing sedation dentistry. You will need to make arrangements to be driven home after treatment by a responsible adult the day of the appointment (some of the medications can remain in your system for up to 12 hours). A trusted friend can monitor your health at home and keep you safe in case you are feeling a bit foggy – they can also keep you safe from making any critical life decisions! Also, if you’re taking any medication that decreases the respiratory rate, it is recommended that you not take it the morning of your appointment. During the conscious sedation procedure, your breathing slows down, and while asleep, you are still able to respond to verbal cues. Afterwards, you may feel drowsy and not able to remember much of the procedure.

At Midtown Dentistry in Charlotte, sedation dentistry is taken very seriously. One day each week is set aside to perform this procedure for patients. Dr. Saint Jean gives his sedation dentistry patients 100% of his attention. He does not go in and out, seeing other patients during the procedure. Because you’re being sedated, your vital signs are monitored every minute. This is to proactively avoid any problems that could occur if you react abnormally to the sedation medicine.

Sedation dentistry is a safe, commonly preformed, and quickly evolving procedure that has shown to make a tremendous difference for patients who suffer from dental fear and anxiety. So if you fear drills, or other dental treatments, or the mere sight of the dentist’s waiting room, consider sedation dentistry at Midtown Dentistry in Charlotte!

Have a question? Think you or know anyone who could benefit or has benefited from sedation dentistry? Comment below!