Dental Anxiety and Its Management
All too frequently, a planned visit to the dentist is looked on with a degree of anxiety. This is referred to as dental anxiety and it is not unusual and quite natural for a person to be uncomfortable when placed in a position in which they feel that they are vulnerable, such as in the dental chair.
It is important that a patient tell us at Forum Dental Group, if they have any dental anxiety related to their planned dental treatment. Keeping their fears hidden can only lead to a greater unpleasant experience for themselves and in more extreme circumstances, may even increase the likelihood of certain emergencies occurring, such as fainting or a panic attack.
Once we are aware of the patient’s dental anxiety and fears, there are many ways in which we may addressed them. In some cases, simply discussing the planned procedure is all that is necessary to alleviate the patient’s dental anxiety.
When this is not enough, other highly effective and safe sedation techniques can be used to alleviate dental anxiety. If the technique involves the administration of a drug, it is termed conscious sedation dentistry.
The most readily available routes of conscious sedation are: oral, inhalation, intravenous and intramuscular. For extremely fearful dental patients, general anesthesia may be required.
Oral Conscious Sedation Dentistry
Often times, we will prescribe a sedative drug to be taken by mouth prior to the planned treatment. If the individual has an even greater degree of dental anxiety, Dr. LaMarche may prescribe an oral conscious sedative to be taken at home one hour prior to going to sleep on the evening before the appointment.
If the drug is administered at home, it is IMPERATIVE that the patient does NOT DRIVE A CAR to the appointment. Patients receiving oral conscious sedation are not permitted to drive a car or operate a motor vehicle for 24 hours following their appointment.
Commonly administered oral conscious sedatives include: Valium, Halcion, Dalmane, and Versed. Oral conscious sedation dentistry is most effective in the management of milder degrees of dental anxiety.
Inhalation Conscious Sedation Dentistry
The use of inhalation conscious sedation (nitrous oxide and oxygen) is the most frequently employed technique of sedation at Forum Dental Group. Commonly known as laughing gas, nitrous oxide and oxygen is used by more than 35% of all U.S. dentists.
An advantage of inhalation conscious sedation, is that most people receiving it recover promptly and may be permitted to leave the dental office unescorted and resume normal activities immediately.
Inhalation conscious sedation is most effective with mild to moderate degrees of dental anxiety.
Intravenous Conscious Sedation Dentistry
Though not as commonly used as other conscious sedation techniques, intravenous (IV) conscious sedation is a safe and highly effective technique for management of moderate to more severe levels of dental anxiety.
Dentists at Forum Dental Group who employ IV conscious sedation have received specialized advanced training and certification by the Washington State Board of Dental Examiners.
Drugs administered intravenously are more effective than the same drugs taken orally and a major benefit of some of these IV drugs is amnesia. The patient will have little or no memory of some, or perhaps all, of the dental treatment. This leads one to feel they were asleep during the treatment when, in reality, they were awake, but comfortable, at all times.
During the procedure, monitoring devices are attached to the patient. These devices monitor the effectiveness of one’s breathing (pulse oximeter), blood pressure and heart rate, increasing the safety of the procedure.
Patients receiving IV conscious sedation are not permitted to leave the dental office unescorted at the conclusion of the procedure.