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I Have Dental Phobia: Can Sedation Dentistry Help?

I Have Dental Phobia: Can Sedation Dentistry Help?

Does the thought of going to the dentist fill you with absolute fear and dread? Do you have trouble sleeping the night before your exam? Does your nervousness escalate as you wait in the lobby? 

In people with a true, disabling phobia, the prospect of heading to the dentist can make them cry and experience panic attacks that include profuse sweating, tremors, and trouble breathing. 

When your phobia keeps you from visiting the dentist for important preventive work and treatment to avoid decay and tooth loss, you need a solution.

Know you’re not alone. Almost 20% of the American population has a moderate to high degree of dental anxiety or phobia. 

At Advanced Care Dentistry in Woodinville, Washington, we love visiting our comfortable office and friendly staff, but know that not everyone feels the same way. We offer sedation dentistry as a way to take the edge off of your fear and help you feel more at ease during your procedure. 

Here’s how sedation dentistry helps make a dental visit less traumatic.

Why you have dental anxiety or phobia

Fear of going to the dentist can arise due to a prior visit that was unpleasant or your fear of not knowing what to expect at the visit.

Some people fear pain or injections. They also worry that the numbing injections won’t work if they do need complicated dental work. You may avoid the dentist because you don’t want to experience any side effects associated with a local anesthetic, like a “fat lip.”

Being in the dental chair can also make you feel out of control. You can’t see what’s going on as you lay there with your mouth open. Being so close to a hygienist and doctor can also be uncomfortable. Your personal space feels invaded and you’d rather avoid the situation altogether. 

Sedation can help with mild, moderate, and severe dental anxiety and phobia

At Advanced Care Dentistry, we offer several different types of sedation dentistry. The type that’s best for you depends on the degree of your fear and your personal health history and preferences.

Mild anxiety

Inhalation sedation can be helpful if you have mild dental anxiety. It involves using nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, delivered through a mask that fits over your nose. The gas is odorless and tasteless, unless you choose a “flavor.” 

Nitrous oxide relaxes you. It makes you feel at ease as you sit in the chair and have your teeth cleaned or a cavity filled. 

The effects of nitrous oxide wear off quickly, so you can drive home after your appointment.

Moderate anxiety

Oral conscious sedation involves you taking a pill like Valium® or Ativan® an hour or so before your procedure. This option eases the intense fear that builds up on your drive to our office and compounds in the waiting room. You feel relaxed and calm for your visit. You’re completely conscious and aware of your surroundings, but, because it does have a depressive effect, you can’t drive for several hours after taking it. 

Severe phobia

If you have severe anxiety and a significant gag reflex, you might benefit from intravenous (IV), moderate, conscious sedation administered during your appointment. This involves IV delivery of a sedative; you remain conscious, but remember the episode as if you were asleep. You feel disassociated from your surroundings and you don’t feel pain. 

You’ll definitely need a driver to take you home as it takes several hours for the power of the sedation to wear off. We can adjust the dosage of the IV sedative during your procedure, too, so you get just the right amount to be safe, but clueless as to the procedures going on. 

If dental fear is keeping you from getting the cleanings and procedures you need for good oral health, contact Advanced Care Dentistry today. Call the friendly staff at our office or reach out via this website to set up an appointment and review all of your options. 

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