Do you lose sleep the night before a dental visit? Do you experience sweaty palms and knots in your stomach? Maybe you’ve even skipped dental appointments altogether because the stress was too much to handle. If this sounds familiar, you are not alone. In the United States, an estimated 30 to 40 million people suffer from dental anxiety. Many people have gone months or even years without setting foot in a dental office. As you can imagine, this can result in long-term, ongoing dental problems. If you are afraid of the dentist, we can help.
At Smile Time Dental in Houston, TX, our doctors understand that dental anxiety is real, and can be debilitating. Drs. Hamidi and Tum practice a philosophy of compassionate care. We believe that all of our patients should be treated like family. That is why we make a commitment every day to foster an environment of peace, relaxation, and friendliness.
Those who are emotionally overwhelmed at the thought of visiting the dentist can benefit from options in sedation dentistry. These treatments can help reduce stress levels and induce a state of relaxation. You deserve to be comfortable and anxiety-free during your treatment; we can help you find ways to achieve that.
Causes of Dental Anxiety
There are several different reasons why patients may experience dental anxiety. Some of the most common factors are:
- Fear of Pain: Patients who grew up undergoing dental procedures before advances in “pain-free dentistry” may be afraid that discomfort is a normal part of the process. Fortunately, we now have ways to eliminate pain so patients are comfortable throughout their procedures.
- Loss of Control: Many people experience anxiety if they feel they are out of control of a situation. Dental appointments can trigger this in some patients.
- Embarrassment: If a patient is embarrassed about the condition of their teeth or gums, they can develop anxiety about attending dental appointments.
- Negative Past Experiences: Unfortunately, some people have had traumatic dental experiences in the past. Anxiety occurs because they fear they may experience something similar again.
Fortunately, patients who experience dental anxiety can soothe their fears and enter a comfortable mindset with sedation dentistry. Here, we will discuss what options are available, and what you can anticipate during your experience.
Nitrous Oxide: What to Expect
Nitrous oxide – also called laughing gas – can make you feel more comfortable and relaxed during your dental procedure. This type of sedation is administered via inhalation of the gas. A nosepiece will be placed, and you will be asked to breathe in normally. The effects of nitrous oxide typically take effect within three to five minutes, inducing a state of calmness and serenity. The dosage can be adjusted throughout the procedure, as necessary.
Most patients report a sensation of heaviness, as though they are sinking into the chair. Tingling in the extremities is also common. While patients undergoing nitrous oxide will still be aware of their surroundings, they will be much more carefree. Often, time seems to pass by much quicker.
Best of all, patients who undergo this type of sedation will be able to drive themselves to and from our office. Following the procedure, we will perform a pure oxygen flush. This will eliminate the nitrous oxide from your system, and your headspace will return to normal.
Oral Conscious Sedation: What to Expect
Those who prefer a deeper level of relaxation can choose oral conscious sedation. This is typically administered in pill or tablet form, and is given to the patient about one hour prior to his or her dental appointment. Some patients even benefit from another tablet the night before.
Most patients who undergo oral conscious sedation feel extremely relaxed during their treatment, and many even fall asleep. Although you will be calm and comfortable, you will still be able to respond to the doctor if necessary.
This type of sedation temporarily affects your motor skills and memory. Therefore, patients who choose this sedation option will need to have a friend or family member drive them to and from our office.
Find Out More
If you suffer from dental anxiety, find out how we can help you alleviate your stress through sedation dentistry. To reach a team member, or to schedule a visit with one of our doctors, call our office at (281) 245-0711.