What to Do if You’re Scared of the Dentist

What’s your biggest fear? If it’s seeing your dentist, you’re not alone. Did you know one in every five people is scared of the dentist? Sedation dentistry can help quell these fears by making you feel comfortable and relaxed even when you’re getting multiple dental procedures done. 

Dental anxiety is defined as an emotional or physical response to a threat. The threat doesn’t always have to be in a physical form. Almost always, it starts with a thought in your head. That idea makes you feel uneasy and anxious. When fear gets in the way of your oral health, your dentist will suggest dental sedation. 

dentist performing inhalation sedation dentistry on patient

How Do You Overcome Dental Fear? 

What is Dental Fear and What Makes It Different From Dental Phobia? 

Dental fear is an emotional or physical response to an immediate or a more specific threat. Meanwhile, a phobia is an intense and overwhelming fear that can interfere with a person’s daily activities. Research shows that in the U.S., around 50% to 80% of adults experience some degree of mild to severe forms of dental anxiety. 

Anxiety level heightens when a patient anticipates pain from a procedure. Because of fear, many patients refuse to seek dental treatment. Sadly, avoiding care will only lead to more complicated problems that will require aggressive and costly treatments in the future. 

What Is Sedation Dentistry? 

Sedation dentistry uses medications to help anxious patients relax during a dental procedure. 

Even if you are awake during the treatment, you’ll feel completely calm, which is why it’s often called conscious sedation. There are different levels of sedation – minimal, moderate, deep and general anesthesia. The level of sedation you’ll receive will depend on the severity of your anxiety. 

Minimal sedation – Minimally sedated patients are aware but are completely calm and relaxed. 

Moderate sedation – Also known as conscious sedation, patients under moderate sedation are relaxed during the treatment. You may slur some words and may not remember much of what happened. 

Deep sedation – When you are under deep sedation, you’ll be on the brink of consciousness but can still be awakened. 

General anesthesia – Patients under general anesthesia are completely unconscious. 

What Are the Different Methods of Administering Dental Sedation? 

Laughing Gas/Nitrous Oxide 

Laughing gas or nitrous oxide can be safely administered to both children and adults. In inhalation sedation, you’ll be awake during the procedure. It’s the ideal option for those with dental phobia to help them relax in the dental chair. 

A mask is placed over your nose, and you’ll be asked to take a deep breath. You’ll experience the calming effect of the sedative in just a few seconds. However, nitrous oxide wears off pretty fast compared to oral and intravenous sedation. Since it wears out fast, you can return to work after your appointment. Dentists can use nitrous oxide in almost all procedures like teeth cleanings and root canal therapy. 

Nitrous oxide is a safe and effective way to help patients relax during a dental appointment. Once the procedure is over, the nitrous oxide is flushed out of your body as you breathe in 100% oxygen. 

Oral Sedation 

Patients receiving oral sedation feel drowsy. So, if you are going to be orally sedated, you’ll need to ask someone to drive you home from the dental office. Driving while sedated is unsafe. Some patients become too drowsy that they eventually fall asleep, but they can be easily roused if the dentist needs their cooperation during the procedure.  

If your child is getting oral sedation, you need to monitor them after the procedure until the effect of the anesthesia wears off. 

Oral sedation is ideal for patients with mild to moderate levels of anxiety. It’s recommended for people who are afraid of needles, sensitive to touch, claustrophobic, and feel nauseous at the sight and smell of a dental office. 

To achieve moderate sedation, dentists suggest you take the oral sedative at least 30 minutes to an hour before your appointment. The usual drugs used in oral sedation are benzodiazepines.  

Some dentists recommend combining nitrous oxide with oral sedation for a greater effect, especially for patients with dental phobia.

Intravenous Sedation 

IV sedation is administered via an IV line directly into your vein. The intravenous line provides a steady stream of medication to your body. You’ll be unconscious during the procedure. Your dentist will monitor your vital signs to ensure they remain within normal levels while receiving dental care. 

patient under sedation dentistry

Interested in Sedation Dentistry? 

If your fear is getting in the way of achieving optimum oral health, then it’s time you consider sedation dentistry. At Tyron Family Dentistry, we offer personalized dental treatments to help you achieve your goals.  

Our staff has years of experience in the dental industry, ensuring that you’ll be treated with respect and care. We’ll also make sure you’re comfortable during your treatment. Contact us today to learn more. 

“Had another wonderful experience at Tryon Family Dentistry today! I felt safe during this pandemic due to the constant cleaning/disinfecting I observed. Everyone there goes out of their way to ensure your comfort and address any/all questions you may have.”
- Leslie Meilhon
“Excellent and knowledgeable staff! The doctors are the best and understood my unique TMD challenges. Because of this, my bite was corrected and I no longer have pain. Wonderful!”
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- Jeff Wilson
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- Cheryl
“Staff is amazing. So gentle but very knowledgeable. Great experiences so far with cleanings and filling replacement.”
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“First time there and I love it! Great place and friendly staff!”
- Tameka Brown
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