Dental Health: Dentophobia and Sedation Options

Did you know that more people report being afraid of the dentist than almost any other fear, including public speaking? Dental phobia (aka dentophobia, odontophobia, dentist phobia, and dental anxiety) can range from simply dreading your next appointment to refusing to visit the dentist at all. No matter what your level of anxiety, there are several options to help make your experience at the dentist your best one yet!


Nitrous Oxide: More commonly known as Laughing Gas, nitrous oxide is administered via a small mask that fits over the patient’s nose. Patients are given a precise combination of nitrous oxide and oxygen throughout the procedure, which helps relax the patient and lessen the feeling of pain while allowing the patient to remain conscious. Nitrous oxide is available to patients for any type of appointment, including a routine cleaning.


Conscious Oral Sedation: For more anxious patients, we offer the option of taking a combination of oral sedatives prior to a dental appointment. As with any prescription medication, our doctors will discuss possible complications due to medical history or drug interactions before deciding if this is the correct course of action for the patient. We offer oral sedation for children and adults. Like with laughing gas, the patient remains conscious for the entire appointment, but they will feel tired and may fall asleep easily. This type of sedation does require patients to have someone to drive them to and from their appointment as well as stay with them following their appointment until the sedation effects wear off.


IV Anesthesia: Intravenous anesthesia is the newest addition to our dental anxiety treatment options. IV anesthesia involves the administration of a combination of medications that leave the patient conscious (so they are able to breathe on their own) but relaxed and unfocused during their treatment. This form of sedation also leaves the patient with no memory of time during treatment. Dr. Pearson and his staff are highly trained to administer IV sedation and ensure the safest treatment possible for our patients. As with most forms of anesthesia, patients cannot eat or drink anything the day of their appointment and they must have someone to accompany them to and from their appointment. IV sedation appointments typically require a pre-operative visit with your dental provider and consent forms that must be completed prior to the appointment.


General Anesthesia: As you may have figured out, general anesthesia involves intubation and renders the patient completely unconscious during their treatment. This type of anesthesia must be administered by an anesthesiologist, there are even dental anesthesiologists that specialize in sedating dental patients to ensure the safest and most effective sedation possible for patients. As with any general anesthesia, patients cannot eat or drink anything the day of their appointment and they must have someone to accompany them to and from their appointment.


There are potential risks, complications and side effects from all forms of sedation. The easiest, cheapest and only risk-free way to ease your dental anxiety is by feeling comfortable with your dental provider, but we want you to be aware of your options and we encourage you to discuss any questions with our doctors.

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