Many people are afraid of the dentist – the noise of the drill, and memories of pain and discomfort make it a place that many people dread. However, modern dentists are very aware that many patients are anxious, and make a concerted effort to make patients as comfortable as possible.
One popular way of dealing with dental anxiety is sedation dentistry – using medication to allow patients to relax during the procedure. Often known as sleep dentistry, sedation dentistry can be of various types and strengths, depending on the level of anxiety of the patient and the length of the procedure.
For mild anxiety and short procedures, dentists are likely to use minimal sedation, where the patient will remain awake but will be relaxed. Examples of minimal sedation include inhaled nitrous oxide – “laughing gas” – which takes effect quickly, and wears off quickly, and will allow the patient to relax.
For longer procedures, or more anxious patients, dentists may use oral sedation using pills similar to Valium, or an IV applied sedative, leaving the patient conscious, but in a state where they are unlikely to remember the procedure. The patient will likely be awake and able to answer questions during the procedure, but will be groggy during and after the procedure, and may require assistance getting home.
For serious anxiety or very involved procedures, some dentists and oral surgeons will employ deep sedation or general anesthesia, where the patient will be entirely unconscious. In the case of general anesthesia, a third party anesthesiologist may be present to monitor the patient’s health during the procedure. With deep sedation and general anesthesia, the patient will likely not be permitted to leave alone – they may require a ride at the end of the procedure.
If you’re anxious about a dental visit, talk to your dentist about sedation options. Your dentist should be happy to work with you to ensure that you can endure the procedures you need without unnecessary anxiety, and that may involve some level of sedation.
Schedule an appointment today with Dr. David Lunt DDS Restorative, Preventive and General Dentistry by calling 818-885-7230. Visit the website for more information at www.davidluntdds.com.
Dr. Lunt welcomes patients from Cal State Northridge, Burbank, San Fernando, Topanga Canyon, Valley Glen, Agoura and all surrounding areas.