How Sedation Dentistry Can Improve Your Oral Health

Posted by Dr. Soto Oct 13, 2017

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There are very few, if any, individuals who like to visit the dentist. Perhaps the staff is friendly and the waiting room has nice magazines, but when it becomes time to sit in that chair…some people can be downright frightened. Are you terrified of going to the dentist, or is there something about being in a dentist office that gives you feelings of anxiety and fright? The thought of someone probing around inside of our mouths can send anxiety levels through the roof. Try as they might, some people just cannot seem to relax when it comes to thinking about or anticipating their next dental visit. This is a real thing, called dental phobia, or the fear of going to the dentist. This is a very common phobia amongst all age groups, but especially in children.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some people fear going to the dentist so much, that they lose sleep and excessively worry. Dental anxiety is common, with millions of Americans missing appointments, or avoiding seeing a dentist all together, due to fear.

Part of this fear, is being afraid of the unknown. Being in the dental chair can often make people uncomfortable, and also not knowing what to expect, even with a small amount of knowledge, is a huge source of anxiety for many people, and children are no different. In other words, many times, people feel afraid because they simply don’t know what is going on. Dentists can combat this by explaining things to them in a simplified way that they can understand, letting them know exactly what’s going on and why it isn’t scary.

By the age of eighteen, the average adult has 32 teeth; 16 teeth on the top and 16 teeth on the bottom. Each tooth in the mouth has a specific name and function. The teeth in the front of the mouth (incisors, canine and bicuspid teeth) are ideal for grasping and biting food into smaller pieces. The back teeth, or molars, are used to grind food up into a consistency suitable for swallowing. The average mouth is made to hold only 28 teeth. It can be painful when 32 teeth try to fit in a mouth that holds only 28 teeth.

You might be having a routine teeth cleaning when your dentist breaks it to you: “It looks like your wisdom teeth are coming through.” Depending on your dentist’s expertise, they may recommend you visit an oral surgeon. If your dentist refers you to an oral surgeon, your internal alarm may go off, causing anxiety or fear. But, have no fear, because instead of the usual laughing gas known as nitrous oxide, dentists have the ability to use what is called sedation dentistry.

What is Sedation Dentistry?

For people who avoid dentists, sedation dentistry may be the answer to their prayers. This method may take away some of their anxiety. Sedation can be used for everything from invasive procedures such as wisdom teeth removal to a simple tooth cleaning.

Sedation dentistry, like the name sounds, is a form of anesthesia or pill given to patients before a procedure. There are several types of sedation dentistry which are:

  • Nitrous Oxide/Laughing Gas: Probably the most common form of sedation in a dental office is nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas. Nitrous oxide does not put you to sleep, but it is effective at reducing your anxiety about a dental procedure.
  • Enteral Sedation (pill or liquid): The next type of sedation dentistry comes in the form of a pill or liquid that you are given to take orally. Like local anesthetics, it is often used in combination with nitrous oxide.
  • IV Sedation: Intravenous (IV) sedation is another common method where the sedative is directly injected to your bloodstream. This technique will allow the dentist to provide a deeper sedation, although you will still be conscious during the procedure, but less aware of what is going on, thus lowering your anxiety levels.
  • General Anesthesia: General anesthesia is a form of sedation dentistry where you are medically asleep for the entire procedure. This is common during wisdom tooth removal. A thorough recovery time in the office may be required before leaving, along with a chaperone to drive you home.

One of the first things to suffer from the effects from your dental anxiety is your oral health. Oral health is important for your overall health, as your mouth can help provide information about other medical issues you may have. As your fear and anxiety has probably kept you from regular dental cleanings and exams for a long time, this is a severe problem, as you are putting the health of your teeth and gums at risk. Dental problems like tooth decay, enamel erosion, cavities, gum disease, and even oral cancer can all affect your mouth, sometimes progressing slowly, and often without visible symptoms.

That’s one of the reasons why seeing a dentist as often as possible is so important for your oral health. Dentists are trained and experienced at catching these problems early enough to effectively treat them before they turn into more serious issues. Sedation dentistry, can help improve your overall health, as it will reduce your anxiety levels about coming to the dentist, and ensure that your health and smile will not be compromised or at risk any longer.

With a clean, healthy mouth, you can begin to regain confidence about your smile again. To learn if you are a candidate for IV sedation dentistry, call Dr. Ernie Soto at (954) 368-6264 to request an appointment.


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