What Exactly Is Dental Anxiety?
Dental anxiety is a general fear of visiting the dentist that can occur for various reasons. Often, patients will have had a bad experience in the past that has led them to grow anxious when hearing dental drills or simply being in a similar environment as a dental office. Patients become weary of receiving routine care and will not be able to relax throughout their appointment. If you have had a bad experience at the dentist, it’s important to know that you are not alone. At La Jolla Cosmetic Dentistry & Orthodontics, we know that we cannot undo what has already happened, but we can try to change your mindset with sedation options that help you feel comfortable about visiting our office.
When Can Sedation Help?
We recommend sedation when you are experiencing dental anxiety that keeps you from receiving the dental care you need. We will also suggest sedation if you have difficulty sitting for long periods of time or have specific concerns about a certain procedure you are receiving.
The goal of sedation dentistry is to:
- Make you more comfortable during dental procedures
- Eliminate your fear of the dentist
- Help you feel more open to receiving necessary dental care
- Improve your overall oral health and wellbeing
Many of the patients who receive sedation at La Jolla Cosmetic Dentistry & Orthodontics report feeling at ease throughout their appointment. Dental visits become pleasant and patients feel relaxed enough to schedule follow-up appointments. It’s important to note that sedation is not anesthesia — you will lose consciousness with general anesthesia, but sedation allows you to remain awake and unaware of the procedure taking place.
Available Sedation Options
Dr. Kohani offers both oral and inhaled sedation options, depending on your specific needs. Oral sedation comes in a pill form and is taken before you come in for your dental procedure. You are awake during your procedure, but feel as though you are in a twilight state. You can breathe on your own while feeling very sleepy and relaxed. Oral sedation is a great option for those with mild forms of dental anxiety or if you are undergoing a procedure that takes a long time to complete.
Inhaled sedation comes in the form of nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas. This type of inhaled sedation is administered through a nasal hood and causes you to feel slightly giddy. The gas raises your pain threshold and also makes time seem to pass more quickly. Nitrous oxide is ideal for patients with more moderate forms of dental anxiety.
Because sedation alters your sense of alertness, we recommend enlisting a friend or family member to drive you home from the dentist’s office once your procedure is complete. Oral sedation will take a few hours to wear off while nitrous oxide will dissipate as soon as oxygen is administered. However, we still encourage you to have someone provide assistance4 until the effects of sedation wear off completely.
Choosing the Right Sedation Method
The sedation option that Dr. Kohani recommends will rely on a number of factors, including your level of dental anxiety and the procedure you are having done. You can find the right sedation method for you during a consultation before your dental treatment is scheduled to begin. You and Dr. Kohani can discuss your previous dental experiences and find a solution that suits your needs specifically. It’s important that you mention your fears of the dentist immediately so that we can work toward making you as comfortable as possible from the beginning of your appointment until the very end.