If you are afraid of visiting the dentist, then you are not alone. Many people become anxious at even the thought of sitting in a dental chair and having their teeth worked on. Sedation dentistry can help you receive the dental work you need without the intense anxiety that you typically experience when in the dental chair. However, you may be hesitating to make that phone call to a dentist who offers sedation dentistry due to myths you have heard that make you fearful of the experience. Read on to find out what the truth is, so you can finally overcome your fears and get that healthy smile back.
Myth # 1: You Will Be Put Fully Under Anesthesia
While dentists do sometimes recommend general anesthesia for patients who need extensive dental work performed, don't fear your dentist will "put you under" during your check-ups, teeth cleanings, fillings, and other small dental procedures. In fact, even if you asked your dentist to put you under full anesthesia for a teeth cleaning, they likely wouldn't, because it is simply not needed!
Instead, for minor dental procedures, sedation dentists typically allow their patients to choose between taking one of several relaxing oral medications or nitrous oxide sedation. Oral medications called benzodiazepines are typically provided, and these medications leave you fully alert, yet in a relaxed state of mind. This is the same type of medication that family doctors and psychiatrists often prescribe patients who suffer from anxiety disorders. Nitrous oxide, often called laughing gas, also relaxes you while leaving you fully alert, but like its nickname suggests, you may just feel a big giggly!
Myth #2: IV Sedation Is the Same as General Anesthesia
For more extensive dental procedures, such as root canals and extraction of impacted teeth, your dentist may recommend IV sedation to ensure you are fully relaxed during the entire procedure. While dentists do recommend full general anesthesia in some situations, don't assume you will be put "completely under" if your dentist does mention using an IV to administer relaxing medication to you during a procedure.
Since one oral dose of a benzodiazepine medication can wear off before your dentist is finished performing a lengthy dental procedure, your dentist may recommend that you are instead delivered a similar medication through and IV to ensure a steady drip of it keeps you relaxed until the dentist is finished, no matter how long it takes. Having an IV connected also gives your dentist the ability to administer pain medication during your procedure to ensure that you are not only relaxed, but also pain-free during your dental work.
It is very important to not let your fear of the dentist get in the way of keeping your teeth and mouth healthy! Thankfully, sedation dentistry can help you stay calm in the dentist's' chair. Forget any myths you have heard about the sedatives provided and a fear of being put "completely under" for small procedures you need. Your dentist will make sure any sedatives you are offered keep you fully alert, if that is what you desire.