You know taking care of your teeth and gums is important. And you know that in order to do that, you have to see the dentist, both for regular checkups and exams and to treat toothaches and other problems. And you even know that putting off care or skipping routine checkups can make matters worse — sometimes a lot worse. Still, you avoid your visits because just the thought of sitting in that dental chair makes you really nervous. If that sounds familiar, you’ve got a lot of company.
Dental anxiety ranging from nervousness to outright fear of seeing the dentist is a real thing. In fact, it’s so real, every year it keeps plenty of men, women, and kids from getting the dental care they need to relieve symptoms, preserve their healthy smiles, and even potentially ward off other health problems as well. If you suffer from dental anxiety, there is some good news. At Rifkin Dental, we offer sedation options that can help you stay relaxed, calm, and comfortable right from the start and all the way through your treatment. With sedation, you can get the care you need to maintain optimal oral health at every age, and you don’t have to spend hours worrying about your appointment or how you’ll feel. Here’s how our sedation options can help.
Dental anxiety has lots of causes
While it’s pretty easy to identify the symptoms of dental anxiety, the causes can vary, sometimes significantly, from one person to another. A lot of people are nervous about seeing the dentist because of past unpleasant (or just plain bad) experiences, typically where treatment resulted in a lot of discomfort or where their dentist seemed less than sympathetic to their concerns or worries. Some patients have a difficult time “getting numb,” or they may have very sensitive teeth or gums. Other people are triggered by the bright lights, smells, and sounds of the dental office. And let’s face it: Having someone working right up close to your face with instruments designed to scrape and prod isn’t an experience conducive to relaxing thoughts and happy vibes.
Many dental offices try to counteract at least some of those issues with music or TV to act as diversions. But for someone with a fair amount of nervousness, those distractions don’t provide enough relief to overcome their anxiety. That’s where sedation can really help.
At Rifkin Dental, we offer two primary types of sedation to help patients relax.
Like the name implies, oral sedation involves taking a pill shortly before your treatment to help you relax. With oral sedation, you’ll still be awake and able to respond to the dentist’s questions and commands (like, “open wider”), but you’ll be very relaxed and you probably won’t remember much of your treatment afterward. You might take the medication in the office, or we might give you a pill to take just before coming in. Since oral sedation can make you drowsy, you’ll need to have someone drive you to and from your appointment.
IV stands for intravenous, and in this type of sedation, medicine is delivered through a needle that’s placed in your arm. IV medicine is administered by a licensed anesthesiologist, and it’s a much stronger type of sedation compared to oral sedation. IV sedation typically is reserved for patients with extreme dental anxiety, for surgical procedures, or for procedures that take a while to complete. IV sedation makes you extremely relaxed; in fact, you’ll probably doze through most of your visit and have no memory of it afterward. And as with oral sedation, you’ll need to have someone drive you home afterward.
If you opt for sedation, you’ll need to avoid alcohol for a day before your procedure, and you should be sure to tell us about any medications you’re taking. You’ll also need to avoid eating anything for several hours before your appointment (typically about eight to 12 hours). Since you’ll feel groggy after sedation, it’s a good idea to take the day off from work so you can relax and nap afterward.
Don't let dental anxiety keep you from getting the care you need. To learn more about the sedation dentistry option we offer at Rifkin Dental, book an appointment online today.