Sedation Dentistry: How Does It Eliminate Dental Anxiety or Phobia?

Posted by Steven Lim Joseph Fields Jun 04, 2020

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Dental anxiety is a condition where patients feel too afraid to sit on a dental chair. Causes for this range from trust issues to traumatic dental or other healthcare experiences. Identifying the causes of such anxiety falls in vain if there’s nothing we can offer to mitigate its harms. Thankfully, Reno's best sedation dentistry has your back.  

Dental Anxiety and Phobia Explained  

Fear of the dental setting is pretty common to many people, making it a universal phenomenon. Dental anxiety refers to the fear or stress patients feel toward a dental procedure. If this anxiety becomes severe, resulting in irrational avoidance behavior, it may be called dental phobia.  

Dental anxiety or phobia pushes patients to do everything they can to avoid visiting a dentist until a simple toothache develops into unbearable pain.  

Many patients who claim to have dental anxiety or phobia say the fear can be triggered by the sight of needles, drills, or a dental chair. In turn, they can’t relax no matter how hard they try. People with dental phobias, in fact, know they are exhibiting irrational reactions to a situation but can’t do anything to stop it.  

What Causes Dental Anxiety or Phobia?  

There are many causes of dental anxiety or phobia. Some of the common reasons are the following:  

  • Trust Issues or Loss of Control  

Many people feel like they don’t have a sense of control over the situation. Having trust issues could also be because of a bad experience from a previous dental procedure.

  • Fear of Pain  

Those who have a low threshold when it comes to pain may use it as a way to avoid the dentist. This may be fueled by ghastly stories of others who have undergone the same dental treatment. Fear of pain is probably the most common cause of dental anxiety. But thanks to modern dentistry, most dental procedures now are less painful or even pain-free.   

  • Fear of Needles  

The fact that you’re afraid of needles, and you can see them getting closer to your mouth, just makes the experience more stressful.  

  • Fear of Anesthetic Side Effects  

Some people dread the discomfort brought about by “fat lips” or when the anesthesia already takes effect. Others fear the side effects of anesthesia like dizziness, fainting, or nausea as well.  

  • Fear Associated with Other Conditions  

Dental anxiety may also be due to other conditions like claustrophobia – fear of closed spaces, obsessive-compulsive disorder – like an obsession with cleanliness, or agoraphobia – fear of being incapable of escaping from a specific situation.  

  • Other Traumatic Experiences, Including Abuse  

Other people may have been abused before, and every time they seem helpless and not in control of the situation, they get stressed.  

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Dental Anxiety or Phobia?  

People with dental anxiety or phobia may manifest the following:  

  • Sweating  
  • Restlessness or lack of sleep the night before the appointment  
  • Palpitations  
  • Feelings of nervousness at the very thought of a dental treatment  
  • Intense uneasiness or difficulty in breathing before or during the procedure  
  • Low blood pressure or possible fainting  
  • Excessively making jokes to cover up the anxiety  
  • Visible distress or panicking, sometimes crying  

How Does Dental Anxiety or Phobia Affect Your Oral Health?  

Maintaining the cleanliness and overall health of your teeth and gums means visiting your dentist regularly. From a simple tooth cleaning to more invasive procedures like dental implants, you'll have to go to the clinic where the treatment is done.  

Neglecting the obvious signs of oral health problems like toothache may cause it to worsen. In this case, it may develop into more serious illnesses, like periodontal diseases.  

Oral health is also linked to your overall health. Studies show people with poor oral health practices may suffer from diabetes or heart diseases. Without a doubt, dental anxiety or phobia poses a lot more harm to you than you’d expect.  

What Can Dentists Do for Patients with Dental Anxiety or Phobia?  

Modern dentistry has found ways to make your next trip to the dentist less frightening. Today, you can enjoy a less painful or pain-free dental procedure, thanks to sedation dentistry.  

What is Sedation Dentistry?  

Also known as sleep dentistry, sedation dentistry is a procedure involving medication to make the patient relax. This can apply to all dental treatments – from teeth cleaning to dental implants.  

Dentists may suggest sedation dentistry to patients with dental anxiety or phobia, so the procedure can still push through. Whether mild or deep sedation is needed depends on the severity of the fear.  

What are the Types of Sedation Dentistry?  

  • Laughing Gas  

Laughing gas is commonly used to make the patient relax. A mask is placed over your nose, so you can inhale the laughing gas. Also known as nitrous oxide, this is safe for both children and adults since you’re awake during the procedure. You’ll be in a relaxed state and won’t feel your fears anymore.  

  • Oral Sedation  

You'll take a pill prescribed by your dentist to make you feel drowsy and relaxed. Some patients really fall asleep after taking the pill, although they can be awakened by a gentle shake.  

If you take oral sedation, you’d need someone to drive you home after since your dentist won’t allow you to do so.  

  • IV Sedation  

This includes the insertion of an IV line to your vein where the medication is administered. This allows for a steady flow of sedation. As a result, most patients doze off, with little to no recollection of the entire dental procedure. Unlike other types, this requires special training from your dentist; thus, only a few dentists can perform IV sedation.  

An anesthesiologist may also be needed on the side to take note of vital signs, like breathing and heart rate.  

  • Get Reno’s Best Sedation Dentistry Experience  

Dentists share a common mission, which is to provide the best oral health care to their patients. While dental anxiety or phobia may be common to many people, this doesn’t stop dentists from performing their duty.  

At Smile Design Implant Center, we aim to provide our patients with the most comfortable and hassle-free experience. We also have dentists specially trained to perform sedation dentistry, giving you a positive experience during every visit. Call us today to request an appointment.  

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