Dental anxiety is a very common problem in today’s society. At Chilcutt & Steuterman, we pride ourselves in offering the best in safe and effective anxiety control services. We constantly strive to make your experience with us a pleasant one.
Anxiety and/or fear should not keep you from maintaining good oral health, including routine dental cleanings. But, we do recognize that your anxieties and fears are valid. As such we focus on level 1 pain control as part of anxiety control, by offering the latest techniques in local anesthetics. This includes buffering our anesthetic to reduce the sting and make it more effective.
For those with higher levels of anxiety, we also offer several levels of sedation or anxiolysis dentistry, including:
- Nitrous oxide is first level
- This is an inhaled gas which reduces anxiety and allows time to pass more quickly
- We use hospital standards for monitoring
- Easily reversible; after 10 minutes of oxygen you can go back to work
- Oral sedation
- We use a single pill that is dissolved under the tongue
- Very safe technique with hospital grade monitoring
- For more complex cases or very anxious patients
- Will require a driver to take you home
- Effects can last up to 12 hours so driving or going back to work will not be possible
- However great choice for a person who has been putting off care out of extreme fear
Just as people have dental fear and anxiety, they may also have sedation fears and anxieties. Some of the questions we hear include:
What does it feel like? Will I be asleep?
You remain conscious during all forms of sedation. You will also be able to understand and respond to requests from your dentist. However, you may not remember much about what went on because of two factors:
- Oral sedation induces a state of relaxation. This feeling of relaxation is more profound with IV sedation, yet you are conscious during the dental procedure.
- The drugs used for oral sedation can produce either partial or full memory loss (amnesia) for the period of time when the drug is given until it wears off. As a result, time will appear to pass very quickly and you will not recall much, or perhaps even nothing at all, of what happened.
Is it still necessary to be numbed with local anesthetic? Will my dentist numb my gums before or after I’m sedated?
The drugs which are usually used for sedation are not painkillers, but anti-anxiety drugs. While they relax you and may make you forget what happens, you will still need to be numbed. If you have a phobia of needles, you will very probably be relaxed enough not to care by this stage. The Dr.’s will then wait until the local anesthetic has taken effect (i. e. until you’re numb) before starting on any procedure.
How is oral sedation administered?
This type of sedation uses medication in the Valium “Family” called Triazolam. The medication is placed under the tongue. Sedation occurs within 15 minutes.
Throughout the procedure, your blood pressure, heart rhythm pulse and oxygen levels are measured using a “pulse oximeter”. This gadget clips onto a finger and measures pulse and oxygen saturation.
Is it safe? Are there any contraindications?
Oral sedation is EXTREMELY safe when carried out under the supervision of a specially-trained dentist. We encourage each patient to meet with our doctors for an in-depth consultation to determine whether he or she would be a good candidate for oral sedation.
What are the main advantages of Oral sedation?
- Effective anxiety control, reduces tension and muscle fatigue. Sedation tends to be the method of choice if you don’t want to be aware of the procedure – you “don’t want to know”.
- Oral sedation does not produce general anesthesia and has a wide range of safety.
- One of the medication used during oral sedation will most likely produce amnesia for the procedure.
- The gag reflex cab be eliminated. People receiving oral sedation rarely experience difficulty with gagging. However, if minimizing a severe gag reflex is the main objective, inhalation sedation is usually tried first.
- Can be ideal for those with a phobia of dental injections.
- People who are sedated orally are conscious and they can cooperate with instructions, and there is no airway tube involved.
After Oral Sedation:
- Have your escort take you home and rest for the remainder of the day.
- Have an adult stay with you until you’re fully alert.
- Don’t perform any strenuous or hazardous activities and don’t drive a motor vehicle for the rest of the day.
- Don’t eat a heavy meal immediately. If you’re hungry, eat something light, e. g. liquids and toast.
- If you experience nausea, lie down for a while or drink a glass of coke.
- Don’t drink alcohol or take medications for the rest of the day unless you’ve contacted your dentist first.
- Take medications as directed by your dentist.
- If you have any unusual problems, call your dentist.