Can I alleviate my fear of the dentist? - Yes!
Some people are so frightened of the dentist that they avoid dental treatment
altogether but today's dentists are sympathetic and in recognising that some
patients experience real anxiety, they have developed new techniques and
approaches to help. In fact if you check the Yellow Pages or dental websites you
will find dentists who specifically mention treatment for anxious patients.
Modern dentistry is very customer focused and as such, a range of sedation
and relaxation techniques have been developed to help anxious patients overcome
What is sedation?
An effective way to treat the most nervous of patients is via intravenous
sedation (injection). The drugs have a relaxing and calming effect but don't
prevent communication between dentist and patient so treatment can still be
carried out easily. Weight, age and medical condition must be assessed before
suitability for this kind of sedation is determined but this would all be
discussed during the consultation with the dentist. Usually the patient would
need to be referred to a specialist clinic for this treatment.
How will IV sedation in the surgery affect me?
Whilst IV sedation will make you drowsy and unaware of the treatment you are
undergoing, you will remain lucid enough to communicate and cooperate with the
dental team. The effects of the sedative will take time to wear off and you
won't be able to drink alcohol, drive or work machinery during this time so it
is important that someone can help you home after treatment and keep a careful
eye on you for sometime afterwards. Your dentist will tell you how long it will
be before the drugs are completely clear from your body.
What else can help?
You can be helped to feel relaxed by 'relative analgesia' sometimes known as
inhalation sedation. This means breathing in a mixture of nitrous oxide and
oxygen ('laughing gas') which quickly leads to a pleasant, relaxed feeling. At
the same time, your dentist puts you at ease through calming speech. Although
you may feel a little drowsy, you remain conscious throughout but any treatment
given causes you no discomfort. You breathe in the mixture through a nosepiece
which is very comfortable. You can't overdose on the gas as the mixture quickly
leaves your body if you breathe in one or two breaths of ordinary air. There are
no after-effects and you are able to drive a car about 15 minutes later. Many
dentists use this safe and effective technique.
Will I ever feel differently about visiting the dentist?
It is highly likely! As you get to know and trust your dentist, hygienist and
other members of the dental team at your practice, your fears will dampen. In
time you will come to see your regular visit to the dentist as just another part
of your normal life.