If you’re anxious about going to the dentist, you’re not alone. Millions of people delay everything from routine checkups to much-needed dental procedures due to a variety of fears and concerns. Not only can avoiding the dentist’s chair harm your healthy smile, however, it can also be harmful to your overall health.
If fear, anxiety, or something else is keeping you from getting the dental care you need, sedation dentistry might be right for you.
The Risks of Avoiding Dental Care
According to researchers, between 50% and 80% of adults in the United States deal with some form of dental anxiety, such as a general fear of going to the dentist, anxiety stemming from a previous negative dental experience, worry about the cost of treatment, fear of needles, or fear of bad news.
Others avoid the dentist due to things like an overly sensitive gag reflex, sensitive teeth and gums, decreased sensitivity to local anesthesia, difficulty controlling movements, feelings of claustrophobia while in a dentist’s chair, or other special needs.
Regardless of why you may have been putting off seeing a dentist, it’s important to know that doing so can put you at risk for cosmetic issues like tooth staining, as well as dental issues like tooth decay, infections, swelling, increased pain, and tooth loss.
And the risks don’t stop there.
Delaying much-needed dental care can lead to higher dental costs when you finally do seek treatment. It can also lead to bigger health issues like increased risk of diabetes, stroke, heart disease, dementia, and, in pregnant women, birth defects.
The Benefits and Types of Sedation
Whether you need a checkup or an advanced procedure, sedation dentistry can make your trip to the dentist relaxing and pain-free. Not only can even mild sedation help your appointment feel like it went by in minutes, it can also allow your dentist to complete multiple procedures in a single office visit instead of multiple return trips.
At the Mint Dental, we offer four types of sedation:
Nitrous Oxide — Also known as laughing gas, nitrous oxide is a harmless gas administered through a comfortable mask. You will remain fully awake while experiencing a happy, relaxed feeling. Once your procedure is completed and the flow of the sedative is stopped, its effects will wear in minutes. You’ll have no “hangover,” and should be able to safely drive yourself home.
Conscious Oral Sedation — This method requires taking a pill at home prior to your visit. While you will be able to interact with your dentist, you will be very relaxed and groggy, and might not actually remember the procedure. You’ll need a ride to and from our office, and will still feel mildly sedated for hours after your visit.
IV Moderate Sedation — This powerful method of sedation is administered through a vein in your arm, and allows your dentist to perform multiple complex procedures like implants or full-mouth construction with little or no discomfort to you. While you won’t be completely asleep, you likely won’t remember the visit, either. The dentist will monitor your vitals the entire time, and you will need a ride home, as you will likely be groggy for several hours after your visit.
Deep Sedation — This drug-induced method of sedation will make your nearly unconscious and difficult to arouse until it wears off. You might be able to respond to sharp touches or poking, but you likely won’t remember your visit. You might need equipment to help you breathe during the procedure, and you will definitely require a ride home.
Note: Our dentists are certified to perform IV and deep sedation — so there is no need for an outside anesthesiologist — and we are the only general dentist practice in the Chattanooga area that offers deep sedation. Click here to learn more about our sedation dentistry options.
Have you been putting off your next visit to the dentist? Click here to make an appointment today.