While it’s normal for people to have some anxiety when thinking about the dentist, some people actually avoid the dentist entirely, even when they have serious problems. This is when the anxiety has become a full-blown phobia. Luckily, there are some procedures that dentists can use to help make even the most anxious patients relax during their all-important dental exams. Here’s a deeper look at how sedation dentistry works and what it can do for you or your child.

Sedation dentistry procedures use sedatives to help you stay calm during your dental visit and alleviate the anxiety and stress you experience. It’s often called “sleep dentistry,” although most of the time, you’re not so heavily sedated that you fall asleep. The level of sedation that your dentist gives you can vary, depending on your level of anxiety and the type of procedure being performed.

dental assistant One of the biggest benefits of being sedated during a dental visit is that people usually feel like the visit only lasted a few minutes, even when the procedure may have taken hours. Also, because you’re “under,” you don’t experience the discomfort of holding your mouth open for extended periods of time, which allows the dentist to perform longer procedures and accomplish more with less visits. Here’s a look at the different levels of sedation dentistry typically used:

  • Minimal sedation — This is the most well-known type. The dentist administers nitrous oxide (laughing gas) through a mask placed over your nose. You typically stay awake during the procedure, and the gas simply helps you relax. The effects wear off quickly, and you can typically drive yourself home after the procedure.
  • Moderate sedation — This kind of sedation is usually delivered in pill form. You can become groggy enough to actually fall asleep during the procedure, but can be awakened easily. Sometimes, an IV is used to administer the sedative.
  • Deep sedation and general anesthesia — This is typically used for more intensive procedures, such as dental implants. For this level of sedation, you will be admitted into a hospital or surgery center and will be completely unconscious throughout the procedure.

If you are typically a bit more anxious during dental visits, talk to us today about how sedation dentistry can help you stay the course in maintaining your oral health!