Does the thought of having dental work make you tense with fear? Would you rather experience the pain from a cavity than step foot inside a dentist’s office? You are not alone! Many people have a mild to severe phobia about going to the dentist for dental work. In fact, many ignore problems and live with pain because they have such a fear.
If you avoid the dentist for this reason, you may be relieved to know that sedation dentistry is an option. Imagine undergoing a complex dental treatment like an extraction or root canal and having no recollection of the pain, the noise, or the discomfort you were expecting?
At The Dental Anesthesia Center, we can offer our patients the option of safe, comfortable, and effective sedation dentistry. Patients who may benefit from sleep dentistry include those who have:
- Intense Fear and Anxiety
- Low Pain Threshold
- Severe Gag Reflex
Some have a misconception about how sedation dentistry works. Sedation dentistry involves the administration of medications that calm patients creating a drowsy, sleep-like state. It is important to understand that you are NOT asleep for sedation dentistry. Dental sedation can be achieved by administrating oral medications, intravenous medications, or Nitrous Oxide “laughing gas”. When you come in for your appointment, Dr. Hoffmann or Dr. Thoms will decide which level is best for you.
Different Levels of Sedation
At The Dental Anesthesia Center, we currently have the only two Board Certified Dental Anesthesiologists in the State of Missouri, including the St. Louis Metro Area. Sedation dentistry is closely regulated by law, and there are three levels of sedation that we can administer: minimal, moderate, and deep.
- Minimal Sedation: The patient is conscious. This method is the lightest level of sedation. It involves a mild sedative, such as a Valium-like medication or Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas.)
- Moderate Sedation: The patient is conscious and it is referred to as “Sedation Dentistry.” Moderate Sedation allows the patient to simply respond to questions. You are not asleep for sedation dentistry.
- Deep Sedation: Also known as general anesthesia, patients go between consciousness and unconsciousness during their dental procedure. They typically have no recollection of the treatment and are not able to respond to questions even if they are awake at times.
Sedation dentistry helps patients with a dentist-associated phobia or anxiety get the treatment they need. Your St. Louis sedation dentist will administer calming medication before the procedure to help you relax. There are many types of sedation you can get, and each has its own particularities and associated risks.
However, for some patients with certain conditions or who don’t meet the weight or age requirements to qualify for sedation dentistry, it may unfortunately not be an option. If you are such a patient, don’t worry, there are many other ways to relax in the dentist’s chair and maintain your oral health. Here are some tips.
Communicating Openly with Your Dentist
One of the factors that contribute to a patient’s anxiety is not knowing what is going to happen and what sensations to expect during a procedure. Find a doctor who is empathetic and discuss your fears with them to find the right solutions for you. Talking to your dentist prior to the procedure and during the procedure may help you control your anxiety as it gives you mental support to take the experience one thing at a time.
Distract Yourself with Something you Like
Dentists understand very well that many patients skip their check-ups because of intense anxiety. Surely most dentists will agree to let you use appropriate distractions during your procedure to help you relax and sit still. One of these tips is listening to your favorite music using headphones, which will allow you to concentrate on the good feelings the tunes give you, instead of listening to the noise made by the dental instruments.
Be Sure to Breathe Deeply
One of the symptoms of anxiety is shallow breathing, which can lead to dizziness and other secondary symptoms. Breathing deeply is an easy way of relaxing and calming down, getting your body out of “fight or flight” mode.
Consider Treatment for Your Anxiety or Phobia
When relaxation techniques like the ones above don’t work, and sedation is still not an option for you, it may be time to consider therapy for treating your anxiety or phobia. A psychologist or psychiatrist may be able to help you get to the root of the problem and maybe even administer medication for your condition.
Dental anxiety is nothing to be ashamed about, as many people have it and have trouble staying calm in the dentist’s chair. Many times, it is not at all a fear of pain, but other small triggers that make you feel unsafe or scared. Fortunately, there are relaxation solutions that will help you get your dental treatment, even without sedation.
If you have a severe fear or phobia of the dentist that keeps you from receiving dental treatment, be assured there is a way to relax in the dental chair. At The Dental Anesthesia Center, we work hard to make you feel at ease by providing exceptional patient care in a relaxed, convenient atmosphere. We strive to develop lifelong relationships with our patients by combining the latest dental technology with a professional and compassionate team.
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The Only Board Certified Dental Anesthesiologists in the State of Missouri, including the St. Louis Metro Area.