What is Sedation Dentistry? Is it Right for Me?
Does the thought of going to the dentist stress you out so much that you’ve been putting off getting that much-needed work done?
If so, you’re not alone. Around 40% of Americans admit to having some level of fear or apprehension when going to the dentist. Symptoms can range from an uneasy feeling in the pit of your stomach all the way to a major panic attack.
Odontophobia is the medical term given to people who suffer from fear of the dentist. It’s a severe condition that can lead a person to prolong or entirely avoid visiting the dentist altogether. The longer that person waits, the worse off their dental problems become.
Fortunately, there is a solution that can benefit many people who suffer from fear of the dentist. It’s called Sedation Dentistry and has helped millions of people get the dental work they need.
What is Sedation Dentistry?
Sedation dentistry is used to make people feel more comfortable when going to the dentist. It is comprised of different types (or levels) of sedation that a dentist might use to help their patients feel more comfortable. The end goal is to prevent anxiety and make you feel relaxed – as if you were sitting on your living room couch.
Levels of Oral Sedation Dentistry
There are varying degrees and levels of sedation dentistry that can be used to help you feel more relaxed during your procedure or surgery.
Nitrous Oxide – This is the lowest level of oral sedation dentistry. It’s mainly used to calm your nerves and give you an overall sense of general well-being. Nitrous is a safe gas that is administered to you via a small mask that’s placed over your mouth or nostrils.
Sometimes called “laughing gas,” nitrous oxide only works when you inhale it. It helps to relax your mind and calm you down. You might feel a bit giggly or very slightly groggy. It won’t put you to sleep, and your dentist can control the exact amount that you’re receiving. Once the dentist turns the gas off, the effects will wear off quickly, and you’ll be 100% sober and safe to drive yourself home.
Oral Sedatives – The next step up from nitrous oxide are oral sedatives. Oral sedatives are usually taken in the form of a pill an hour or so before your dental procedure. While each dentist is different, most dentists will prescribe a type of anti-anxiety medication such as: Triazolam, Xanax, or Valium. They’re generally used for such procedures as root canals, fillings, or other general dentistry work.
When taking oral sedatives to help relieve anxiety about the dentist, you must make sure that you do not drive yourself to your dental appointment. These prescription medications will cause you to feel intoxicated, sleepy, and render you unable to drive. You will also need a ride home as the effects can last for a few hours after your procedure is finished.
Intravenous Sedatives – IV sedation is the highest level of sedation dentistry. An IV is inserted into your arm, and powerful sleeping drugs are administered. You will be completely asleep during the procedure and wake up a short while afterward. There are also various levels of IV sedation – some that will put you in a deep sleep, and others that will put you in what’s known as a “twilight sleep,” which will result in semi-consciousness.
Risks of Sedation Dentistry
As with any sedation procedures when undergoing surgery, there exists a slight chance of medical complications. Very young, very old, and people with pre-existing medical conditions can be susceptible to the risks of sedation dentistry. It’s essential to let your dentist know of any health conditions you might have before being sedated.
The overall risk is lessened when you undergo sedation dentistry in the office of a qualified dentist. If you travel out of the country to get dental work done to save money, you could be putting your life at risk. Other countries don’t have the same medical standards as we do here in America.
How Much Does Sedation Dentistry Cost?
The overall cost will depend on what kind of sedation dentistry you get. For example, nitrous and oral sedatives are usually the least expensive. Sometimes your health or dental insurance will cover the cost of the oral sedatives. IV sedation is often the costliest, because a trained and licensed anesthesiologist will need to be present during the procedure.
Some dental offices might not offer all of the above sedation procedures. This could be due to personal preference of the dentist, or insurance reasons. It’s best to call the dental office first and see what sedation options are available. The receptionist can also give you an estimated cost over the phone.
Sedation Dentistry in Chicago
The good news is that the techniques used in dental procedures nowadays are far more advanced than what they were 20 short years ago. On average, patients experience less pain and less discomfort due to the advanced techniques and medical instruments that the dentists and oral surgeons use.
However, if you still feel anxious or nervous about visiting the dentist, give us a call at (312) 787-2131. At Water Tower Dental Care, we cater to self-proclaimed “dental chickens.” We want you to feel just as relaxed in our dental chair as you would if you were sitting on your living room couch. Contact us to learn more about the various sedation options available to you.