Sedation Dentistry with
Dr. van Gennip in Silver Spring MD
Fear of the dentist may be a classic joke, but for those that suffer from it, the fear is very real. If your palms sweat, you feel sick or start to shake at the thought of visiting your dentist then you aren’t alone. In fact, it is estimated that between 5 and 15% of the U.S. population suffer from some degree of dental anxiety or phobia and actively avoid visiting their dentist as a result of the condition.
Avoiding the dentist can compromise your health
Unsurprisingly, this is bad news for the oral health of dental phobia sufferers. Studies have shown that patients who do not regularly visit their dentist are at substantially higher risk of dental decay. Left untreated, decay can lead to a variety of dental problems including weakened and unsightly teeth, pain, loss of tooth and jaw function and even tooth loss. Neglecting your oral health has also been shown to have a direct impact on your overall wellbeing, with poor dental care being cited as a contributing factor in many serious health conditions. This includes diabetes, heart disease, respiratory diseases and even dementia.
Sedation dentistry is the solution
Thankfully, people who suffer from dental anxiety or phobia no longer have to live with the inevitability of poor oral health, and put their overall wellbeing at risk. Sedation dentistry, otherwise known as sleep dentistry, can make dental visits simple for patients who have a serious fear of visiting the dentist, and for those patients who have physical or mental conditions that may make treatment impossible.
Symptoms of dental anxiety or phobia
Anxiety and phobias can manifest in a variety of ways depending on the patient. However, some common symptoms include:
- Stomach cramps
- Hot/cold flushes
- Inability to concentrate
- Persistent headaches (usually caused by stress)
- Unexplainable laughter
- Irrational behavior
Candidacy for sedation dentistry
Sedation dentistry isn’t just for people who have an extreme fear of the dentist. It can also be used for patients who:
- Have a particularly strong gag reflex
- Who have a neurological or physical impairment that prevents them from sitting still or holding their mouth in the required position for dental treatment to be performed
- Are unable to tolerate any level of pain
Whether or not you are a suitable candidate for sedation dentistry will be discussed during your consultation appointment
Types of Sedation
There are various levels of sedation possible, and you will be able to discuss which type of sedation is right for you during your consultation appointment. The decision will be made jointly and will depend on the extent of your anxiety/phobia, your medical history/current health and the dental work that you need to be carried out.
Types of sedation include:
If you only require light sedation, then you will probably be recommended nitrous oxide. Also known as ‘laughing gas’, it helps to keep you feeling relaxed and calm during your dental procedure while remaining completely awake. It is administered using a mask that is placed over your nose, and will be carefully monitored by your dental team for the duration of your procedure.
Oral Sedatives (Pill Form)
Oral sedatives provide a deeper level of sedation than nitrous oxide. It is administered in the form of a pill which is usually taken around an hour before your scheduled appointment. Although you will not be asleep during your treatment, you may doze lightly.
Sedation drugs administered intravenously are used to provide the deepest level of sedation. They begin to work almost immediately and must be carefully monitored throughout your procedure. Patients who opt for this type of sedation usually remember little to nothing about their dental treatment.
In some instances, it may be recommended that you are given a general anesthetic. This means you will be asleep for the entire procedure and will not remember anything when you come around.
Do you have dental phobia or any other condition that prevents you from underdoing routine dental appointments? If so, please make an appointment with our experienced and reassuring team to discuss whether sedation dentistry will be able to help you.