Some people are so frightened of the dentist that they avoid dental treatment altogether, but today’s dentists are sympathetic and in recognising that some patients experience real anxiety, they have developed new techniques and approaches to help.
Modern dentistry is very customer focused and as such, a range of sedation and relaxation techniques have been developed to help anxious patients overcome their fears.
An effective way to treat the most nervous of patients is via intravenous sedation. The drugs have a relaxing and calming effect but don’t prevent communication between dentist and patient so treatment can still be carried out easily. Weight, age and medical condition must be assessed before suitability for this kind of sedation is determined but this would all be discussed during the consultation with the dentist. Usually the patient would need to be referred to a specialist clinic for this treatment.
Whilst IV sedation will make you drowsy and unaware of the treatment you are undergoing, you will remain lucid enough to communicate and cooperate with the dental team. The effects of the sedative will take time to wear off and you won’t be able to drink alcohol, drive or work machinery during this time so it is important that someone can help you home after treatment and keep a careful eye on you for some time afterwards. Your dentist will tell you how long it will be before the drugs are completely clear from your body.
You can be helped to feel relaxed by ‘relative analgesia’ sometimes known as inhalation sedation. This means breathing in a mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen (‘laughing gas’) which quickly leads to a pleasant, relaxed feeling. At the same time, your dentist puts you at ease through calming speech. Although you may feel a little drowsy, you remain conscious throughout whilst any treatment given causes you no discomfort. You breathe in the mixture through a nosepiece which is very comfortable. You can’t overdose on the gas as the mixture quickly leaves your body if you breathe in one or two breaths of ordinary air. There are no after-effects and you are able to drive a car about 15 minutes later. Many Dentists use this safe and effective technique.
Gaining confidence and overcoming fears is a process and can take many years. As you get to know and trust your Dentist, Hygienist and other members of the dental team at your practice, your fears will dampen. In time you will come to see your regular visit to the dentist as just another part of your normal life. We aim to work with our patients so they can eventually feel confident enough to be treated without sedation.
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