If you have never experienced anxiety or fear about going to the dentist, you are definitely in the minority. There are varying opinions on the correct use of the terms “dental anxiety”, “dental fear”, or “dental phobia”. Whichever term you choose, it is safe to say that it is a very common problem. When it is severe enough to cause someone to avoid necessary dental treatment, it is a big problem.
At Premier Dental of Ohio, we recognize that dental fear is a genuine obstacle for many people. We have several sedation dentistry options to address their fears and help them proceed with treatment.
Also known as “laughing gas”, nitrous oxide has been used for dental treatment since 1844. Dentist Horace Wells volunteered to have his own tooth extracted while “testing out” the gas to see if it would work. He claimed no pain (remember that this was before the use of local anesthetic) and did not remember the procedure.
We do not make such ambitious claims at Premier Dental of Ohio with the use of nitrous oxide. Most patients say they experience a reduced sense of anxiety, a reduced awareness of their surroundings, and a perception that the appointment was much shorter in duration than reality. Patients remain awake and responsive while using nitrous oxide.
Nitrous oxide is not classified as a sedative drug; instead, it is called an anxiolytic drug (meaning it removes anxiety). Nitrous oxide is very safe and is commonly used with children. There is no lingering effect once the gas has been ceased (after a 5 minute period of breathing oxygen). Patients can drive themselves to and from appointments where nitrous oxide is used. The only common negative side effect is nausea and/or vomiting, which we avoid by asking the patient to present with an empty stomach. Other side effects include tingling in the fingers and toes, a sense of dizziness or lightheadedness, and sleepiness. Lowering the level of nitrous oxide administered most often eliminates any negative side effects.
We never leave patients alone while breathing they are breathing nitrous oxide. If you feel something you do not like, we will address it as quickly as possible.
Nitrous oxide is NOT safe for use during pregnancy or for patients who suffer from lung diseases like COPD or cystic fibrosis.
Oral sedation offers a sedative or “sleep” option for patients who need something a little stronger than laughing gas. This option for sedation uses an oral medication to induce a deeper state of sleepiness during dental procedures.
Regulatory agencies hold dentists who perform oral sedation to a high standard of requirements, including certification and continuing education. They also set in place specific requirements for patient monitoring during sedation and medical emergencies training. Your safety is our number one priority!
The drugs used for sedation dentistry commonly fall into the class of drugs related to Valium, though dentists rarely use Valium itself. These drugs reduce anxiety and produce drowsiness, allowing your body to relax and fall asleep despite being in the dental chair. Because these medications carry the potential for addiction and abuse, your prescription provides only the minimal dosage necessary for a dental appointment.
Patients who take benzodiazepines (Valium-type drugs) on a regular basis do not experience a strong sedative effect because their bodies have built a tolerance to this type of medication. Our goal is always for your dentist to give you the best care possible with sedation dentistry. It is essential that you openly discuss your complete medical history, including any history of prescription drug abuse because this can affect your response to oral sedation.
The biggest concern with oral sedative medications is the risk that a patient could stop breathing. This is due to the suppression of the central nervous system. This is why we continually monitor your blood pressure, pulse, and oxygen levels throughout the procedure. Certain medical conditions do contradict oral sedation with these medications. If you have pulmonary problems that reduce your body’s ability to take in oxygen, you should not have oral sedation. Patients with severe sleep apnea should also avoid sedative medications.
IV, or intravenous, sedation is the best option for patients with severe dental phobias. Most people are familiar with the concept of IV sedation for surgeries like wisdom tooth extractions. What many may not realize is that IV sedation is an option for almost any dental procedure!
Patients with extreme dental anxiety cannot bear any of the aspects of dental treatment. With IV sedation, we can remove all awareness of the procedure and keep patients in a comfortable state until the dental work is complete.
At Premier Dental of Ohio, licensed anesthesiologists perform IV sedation on patients for a wide variety of dental procedures. As with oral sedation, we monitor all vital signs continually throughout the procedure, providing the safest care possible. Many people are surprised to learn that the IV option is actually safer and more predictable than oral sedation. The reason for this is that IV sedatives enter directly into the bloodstream, while oral medications have to pass through the GI tract first. Each person has a different metabolism when drugs go through the stomach, intestines, and liver. So it is impossible to predict how much of an effect one person will experience from a certain dosage of drug with oral sedation.
With both oral and IV sedation, the patient must go home and sleep the rest of the day, not driving for a minimum of 12 hours. This is to allow any lingering effects of the sedatives to wear off.
Call your nearest Premier Dental of Ohio location today to schedule a consultation with our wonderful dentists. They will discuss all of your dental treatment needs and the sedation options available to help you have the most comfortable experience.