Who among us enjoys going to the dentist? Nobody. Unfortunately, some people are terrified of the dentist so much so that they avoid dental visits altogether. But proper dental care and frequent check-ups are essential for good oral health.
What Are the Consequences of Poor Dental Hygiene?
Bad breath and tooth cavities are only the tip of the iceberg when dealing with the consequences of poor dental care and infrequent (or no) checkups.
Gum diseases and root infections produce bacteria that invade your bloodstream and travel to other parts of your body. If they get into your lungs they can cause respiratory infections and pneumonia. Osteoporosis, diabetes, arthritis, and other diseases have been linked to oral diseases.
Fear of the dentist’s chair is common, however, some of us experience real anxiety. About 35% of us suffer from dental anxiety. A more crippling condition, dental phobia, affects another 13%. Such anxieties discourage the afflicted from maintaining regular dental checkups.
Dental anxiety often is simply a fear that if you make it for your checkup they will tell you that you need corrective work. In the first place, you don’t want to hear that. Worse, you fear the pain you expect when you do require work to be done.
Dental phobia is a less common condition and more disabling if you are prevented from proper oral health care.
Some of the symptoms of dental phobia are:
- Difficulty sleeping before a dental appointment
- Physical sickness at the thought of your visit
- Extreme apprehension and nervousness as your office visit approaches
- Trouble breathing
- Emotional behavior like crying
Methods of Dealing With Anxiety at the Dentist
Dentists are used to dealing with common patient discomfort as well as less common dental anxiety and phobia.
Most people are successfully treated with local oral anesthetics like Novacaine. They have a temporary effect and you can go home or to the office with mild numbness.
With some other measures, your dentist will require someone to drive you to and from your office visit.
- You might be prescribed anxiety-relieving medications that you will take shortly before you leave for your appointment.
- Conscious sedation is an effective common measure.
- General anesthesia is employed only for dental surgery. You are asleep and unconscious.
Conscious Sedation Methods
Conscious sedation, or twilight sedation, is administered so you are not fully asleep. You can communicate with your dentist and assistant. However, you will feel no pain and experience no anxiety. When your office visit is over you probably will not remember the experience.
We are familiar with nitrous oxide (“laughing gas”) as a method of conscious sedation. The patient breathes a gas which causes extreme relaxation. Not to be facetious, but if you do have pain you don’t care. Nitrous oxide is usually administered in combination with Novacaine. No special training is required for nitrous oxide conscious sedation.
With IV sedation, medications drip into your bloodstream through a vein. Inserting the very thin IV needle is comparable to drawing blood. IV sedation is administered by a trained dental sedationist
Various drugs are used for IV sedation. Benzodiazepines (Midazolam or Diazepam) are the most common.
IV sedation reduces anxiety and produces twilight consciousness. In other words, they make you sleep but also keep you awake so you won’t remember your experience.
Do not let dental anxiety prevent you from getting the essential dental care you need. Sedation dentistry is increasingly popular and has helped many people overcome their hesitancy to visit their dentist. We at Long Island Endodontics in Woodmere, NY are experienced in methods of conscious sedation so we can make you comfortable regardless of any anxiety you might have about our dental visit.