Quite a few people have a very big fear of going to the dentist. Dental anxiety is one of the major reasons many put off routine dental care and avoid seeking help for dental pain or treatment for problems. Dental fears are caused by a variety of things. Some fear the perceived loss of control during dental cleanings. Others may have an overactive gag reflex that keeps from seeking oral care. Many find that their dental fears stem from a painful or scary experience at the dentist as a child. Some are specifically afraid of dental injectionsand needles. And some children and adults with special needs are unable to cope with routine dental visits for a variety of reasons including agitation from unusual sights and smells, uncomfortable procedures and other factors.
Did you know that dentists and other oral health care providers have a variety of tips and tricks available to ease your fears and make dental cleanings and other dental procedures as comfortable as possible? One way dentists can make your dental care more comfortable is by using oral sedation.
Oral sedation involves a pill or combination of pills that a dental patient takes at an appointed time prior to a dental cleaning or treatment procedure. Oral sedation may or may not be used in combination with laughing gas. Laughing gas is an inhaled gas that relaxes the patient. Effects wear off quickly when gas is no longer administered. Since oral sedation is a medication that you consume, its effects are longer lasting and more significant than laughing gas alone. Oral sedation may even cause you to not remember any of your dental procedure at all. If your dentist prescribes this method, it is important to have someone drive you to and from your dental appointment, as the relaxing effects of the medication make it unsafe for you to drive. Medication effects usually wear off by the following day, but be sure to follow any instructions provided by your dental health care provider.
Oral sedation is a very safe and effective way for a patient with significant dental anxiety to relax and allow the dentist to complete the oral cleaning or dental repair work needed. Side effects are minimal. Oral sedation can provide a simple solution for those who have overwhelming fear of the dentist or for those who do not cope well with dental treatments.
In addition to laughing gas and oral sedation, some dentists use IV sedation in certain settings. It offers a deeper sedation and more relaxed state than oral sedation. General anesthesia – an even deeper form of sedation – is rarely used in the dental industry but may be used in emergency or special cases.
Oral sedation is commonly and effectively used by dental health providers to help patients relax and feel more equipped to handle dental work. The sedation is not a pain management technique, but does ease the stress often associated with dental procedures. Oral health care providers sometimes pair oral sedation with additional pain management tools, treatments and medications to minimize the discomfort of dental injections and other dental work.
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