A painful childhood experience with a dentist can have a lasting impact on your dental health. Adults who have high anxiety about dental work often had a bad experience when they were young. The negative imprint on an impressionable mind from tooth pain at the dentist's office can keep even very intelligent adults from getting the dental care, preventative and therapeutic, they need. Major health problems can result from a lack of preventative care of the teeth and gums. With the huge number of people who suffer from dental anxiety, there is a trend toward dental practices who offer sedation dentistry.
Sedation dentistry is offered in several forms. It is used for patients who have high anxiety levels, difficulty controlling muscle movement, or an extensive amount of work to be done. The goal of sedation during dental work is to remove all pain and trauma from the experience, so patients begin to feel more comfortable and less anxious about going to the dentist. Even pediatric dentists use a mild sedative in the form of nitrous oxide. The patient simply has a mask placed over the nose. They breathe in the nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and relax enough for the dental professionals to do the necessary procedures. Pediatric dentists who offer this service often have fun ways of introducing the nitrous oxide, such as with a clown nose for the children to breathe in and out. With nitrous oxide, patients typically do not fall asleep. They are simply relaxed and anxiety-free.
Oral sedatives are another option to relieve anxiety related to dental care. After taking the sedatives, dental professionals will wait for the drugs to take effect and then work on a relaxed and stress-free patient. The dentist in charge will usually decide what type and dosage of sedative to administer. Medical history, drug interactions, and anxiety level will all be considered in the prescription process.
The most drastic form of sedation dentistry is intravenously administered sedatives. IV sedation dentistry is usually performed in a larger dental practice or hospital setting where the patient is monitored by health professionals. A professional anesthesiologist will be brought in to administer the sedatives. This type of sedation is more commonly used when there is an extensive amount of work to be done, and the process will take a long time. The patient is put to sleep for the duration of the work, so no pain or anxiety is felt at all.