Sedation Dentistry Can Help Your Dental Phobia

Posted on: February 2, 2019

Sedation dentistry is a medical procedure where a dentist administers oral sedative drugs to reduce anxiety. Dental phobia is a very real condition that does not discriminate by age — children and adults alike experience this crippling fear of the dentist chair.

What is dental phobia?

Dental phobia can have many causes. For example, unpleasant experiences at the dentist in younger years or a general fear of pain. Loss of control is another reason why anxiety can present itself, along with a fear of needles.

A telltale sign of dental phobia in adults is avoidance of the dentist. Someone with a dental phobia will go to great lengths to stay away from dental procedures. Unfortunately, this can cause any oral health issues they may have to escalate.

Someone with a dental phobia will avoid the dentist at all cost, even when they are in pain. The longer you put off dental exams the worse your oral health issues become. In fact, a dental phobia can end up costing you a lot more money than getting the issue fixed at the first sign of a problem.

Common oral health problems can lead to more serious issues — gingivitis can lead to periodontitis, while plaque buildup can cause cavities. Do not let your fear stop you from going to the dentist. There are options for managing this fear.

What is sedation dentistry?

Sedation dentistry goes by many names, one of them being “sleep dentistry.” However, this is not a completely accurate term. Also known as “twilight dentistry,” sedation dentistry usually does not mean the patient is unconscious.

With the exception of general anesthesia, most medications put the patient in a conscious yet relaxed state. There are four levels of oral sedation: Minimal, moderate (conscious), deep and general anesthesia. For the first three levels, you likely will not remember the procedure.

Under minimal sedation, you are awake but relaxed. It is common under moderate sedation to slur words. In a level of deep sedation, you are on the edge of sleep, but can still be awake.

Nitrous oxide is the most widely used form of sedation. Safe for most procedures, this sedative can be given even during mild procedures like a dental cleaning to help the patient relax.

Myths about sedation dentistry

Information circulating about sedation during dental appointments can be wildly inaccurate. One myth about this common practice is that it is unsafe. Sedation dentistry is a safe option for those experiencing anxiety. If you are in good overall health, this is not the case.

However, sedation is not safe for everyone or during every procedure. The option of sedation depends on the length of the procedure. Pregnant women or patients with other medical conditions might not be approved for sedation. Keep in mind there are other ways to deal with your dental phobia if sedation is not an option.

How sedation dentistry can help you cope with dental phobia

During any dental appointment, you may be able to request medication to help you through the procedure. Another strategy to calm nerves is talking to your dentist about your fear. Work with your dentist and hygienist to come up with strategies to make sure you feel in control during the appointment, like raising a hand when you need a break.

The bottom line

The hardest obstacle to conquer when you are afflicted with dental phobia is calling to make an appointment, but sedation dentistry can help. Whether you have a toothache or you have been putting off a dental cleaning, do not hesitate to call and talk to your dentist today.

Request an appointment here: or call Feist Siegert Dental at (608) 466-4227 for an appointment in our Onalaska office.

Check out what others are saying about our dental services on Yelp: Sedation Dentist.

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