Sedation Dentistry for Dental Anxiety

Some people are terrified of spiders, some have a phobia for open spaces or enclosed spaces, and others suffer from dental anxiety that approaches phobic proportions. Quite often, it will come from a single bad experience in the past, but sometimes it’s just a generalized illogical fear.

Unfortunately, people who are this afraid of dentists will usually neglect having dental work done until they are in severe discomfort and need extensive work on their teeth. But even their existing discomfort, and the thought of finally obtaining relief from pain, isn’t enough to overcome their anxiety.

Another scenario we occasionally see is that of special needs children and adults who are afraid of being touched or handled by any medical practitioner. The dental visit becomes traumatic for patient, parent or caregiver and dentist alike.

Fear not! Sedation dentistry is here for you

Oral Sedation

It’s not the same as anaesthesia, and usually, no injections are required. An ordinary oral medication is used. The patient is still awake, but feels calm, relaxed and has little to no recollection of what happened in the dentist’s chair afterwards. This technique, known as oral conscious sedation dentistry, will necessitate getting a prescription sedative before the dental visit.

If you are too worried about entering a dentist’s surgery, even to get a prescription, you can ask a friend or family member to act as your representative. This person visits the dentist on your behalf before your appointment, explains the problem and gets the prescription.

Not all dentists are able to offer conscious sedation dentistry, so check whether they can when making the appointment. A regular doctor who is familiar with the patient’s medical history will be able to tell you whether there are any medications the patient can’t or shouldn’t take. He or she can either obtain a letter from the doctor, or if this is difficult, a caregiver or close family member can discuss the situation with the general practitioner.

How it works

The patient takes the sedative about an hour before dental treatment. He or she will need a companion to drive them to their appointment and drive them home afterwards, as it takes time for the sedative to wear off.

Sometimes, dentists may recommend that the patient also takes a sedative the night before. This gets them used to the sensation of sedation and also puts them in a relaxed frame of mind on the day, even before setting out for the visit to a dentist.

There are three levels of sedation:

  • Mild sedation for those who are just very nervous.
  • Moderate sedation for those who are very nervous.
  • Deep sedation: you aren’t actually conscious, but you can easily be woken
  • Full anaesthesia

Generally speaking, mild to moderate sedation is all that’s required.

Sedative options include:

  • Inhaled sedatives
  • Orally taken sedatives
  • IV sedation

Talk it through with us

Even though we pride ourselves in pain-free dentistry, we won’t be offended if you tell us you suffer from dental anxiety. Feel free to talk to us on the phone about your issue. We’re here to help.

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