Sedation: Making Your Dental Procedure as Comfortable as Possible
Advanced Sedation Dentistry Controls Anxiety and Dental Pain
As we get older, we figure out that many things we didn’t like as children really were for our own good. Sometimes, we even end up liking some of those things, such as vegetables or early bedtime. But let’s be honest – sometimes when you’re sitting in your dentist’s waiting room listening to a poor eight-year-old boy throw a fit, you’re right there with him. Dental visits rarely end up being anyone’s favorite thing to do!
Even if going to the dentist doesn’t terrify you, the idea of a dentist visit can be nerve-wracking and uncomfortable for some people. About 15% of Americans are so intimidated by going to the dentist, they avoid it altogether – unfortunately for their teeth. Waiting to go to the dentist, or never going, can turn small dental issues into bigger, more complicated problems that are potentially more painful, too.
At Hall Cosmetic & Family Dentistry, we want you to know we understand coming to see us can seem intimidating, and we are committed to making your visit as comfortable as possible. Among other things we do to welcome you to our office, we can make most procedures relatively painless, thanks to the power of modern medicine and advanced sedation dentistry practices.
Usually, a local anesthetic is enough to manage your pain and sedate anxiety. However, for some people, pain isn’t the only concern. Patients who suffer from anxiety, for example, may be concerned about the discomfort of a procedure that will cause elevated anxiety. If that’s the case for you, don’t worry! Dental sedation can make your visit a breeze!
Controlling Dental Pain: Local Anesthesia vs. General Anesthesia vs. Sedation
Dentists use three primary methods to manage patients’ pain and stress during procedures:
- Local anesthesia: numbs the immediate area being worked on
- General anesthesia: makes you unconscious for the duration
- Sedative medication: calms you – dentists can choose different levels of sedative
Local anesthesia is applied with a swab or syringe directly to the skin or muscle in the area the dentist plans to work on. Some sedatives are released into the patient’s bloodstream through a needle or catheter inserted into a vein. Unlike general anesthesia, where the patient is entirely unconscious and may need assistance with their breathing and heartbeat, sedative medication can leave the patient in a semi-conscious state. This means the patient can respond to verbal commands and doesn’t need to be watched as closely.
Many sedatives leave the patient with no memory of the procedure, so they don’t have to worry they will have traumatic memories of the procedure. A combination of local anesthesia and sedative medication makes a patient’s experience both painless and more emotionally comfortable.
Oral sedatives (by mouth) often simply calm a person’s nerves a bit. These sedatives leave the patient fully conscious but help them relax during the dental procedure.
The type of advanced sedation dentistry a dentist uses depends on the individual needs of each patient.
Going to the dentist may not ever be one of your favorite things, but at Hall Cosmetic & Family Dentistry, we have ways (including sedation) to ensure your dental visit is as comfortable as possible. If you have questions about how we can accommodate you during your visit, or if you have specific questions about any procedure, contact us or give us a call at (205) 991-7840, and we’ll be happy to ease your anxiety!Laughing Gas Eases Dental Procedures
Laughing Gas Eases Dental Procedures: We’re Not Joking!
By now, most people have heard dentists often use nitrous oxide – laughing gas – to make procedures more comfortable for their patients. But many people don’t know exactly what laughing gas is or what it does. At Hall Cosmetic and Family Dentistry, we offer nitrous oxide (laughing gas) as a sedative for any procedure for one low cost, because we know dental fear is no laughing matter!
Our patients sometimes want us to answer questions about the gas before they decide it’s right for them. Some even ask, “If I’m laughing, won’t it be hard for the dentist to work on my teeth?” Though it’s called laughing gas, you won’t actually double over with belly laughs – you’ll just be less worried about what’s going on inside your mouth. You’ll still be awake and more-or-less alert, so if the dentist needs to ask you to tip your head a certain direction or open wider, you’ll be able to do so.
Above all, our patients want assurance that it’s safe. Nitrous oxide IS safe. It was first used as an anesthetic drug in 1844. Since then, modern medicine has perfected safe methods of delivery. Occasional use of nitrous oxide in small amounts for dentistry has no known side effects. It’s a tested and verified sedation choice used by thousands of dentists and their patients to take the edge off during dental work.
Laughing Gas is Easy and Comfortable During Procedures
Unlike other more-complicated methods of sedation used for complex or serious dental procedures, laughing gas is easy on both the dentist and the patient. Your dentist simply fits a special mask over your face and asks you to breathe in the mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen. Before long, you’ll feel the effects of the gas.
Under the effects of nitrous oxide, you feel calm and comfortable. Some people feel as though their arms and legs are heavy, though you’ll be able to move them if the need should arise. The sense of calmness you get from the gas keeps your feelings of anxiety at bay. It also is likely to make you care less if you feel pain.
After your dental procedure is complete, the dentist removes the mask used to deliver the nitrous oxide, and the effects of the drug wear off quickly. Unlike with other sedation methods that put you further “under,” you’ll be able to drive yourself home shortly afterward your appointment without needing much time to rest.
For many years now, dentists have used this process to deliver calmness to dental patients using laughing gas. It’s accepted the world over as a safe, effective and fast way to make sure dental procedures cause as little stress as possible.
At Hall Cosmetic & Family Dentistry, we provide this important service, because we know dental anxiety is no joke. We want to make sure any visit to our office is as quick and comfortable as possible. If you have any questions about nitrous oxide/laughing gas sedation or want to schedule an appointment for any reason, just give us a call at (205) 991-7840 and we’ll be happy to help!
Related Blog PostsHow to Manage Being Scared and Stressed at the Dentist
How to Manage Being Scared and Stressed at the Dentist
If you get anxious about going to the dentist, you’re not alone. Not by a long shot. Some studies show nearly three-fourths of American adults experience anxiety or outright fear when they even think about visiting the dentist. About 1 in 10 Americans experience enough fear to classify it as a phobia. It’s okay. We know going to the dentist can seem scary!
But avoiding dental care as a result of dental anxiety can result in serious consequences for you and your teeth. Even if you’re nervous about going to the dentist, it’s extremely important to do what’s necessary to keep your mouth clean and healthy.
We want all of our patients to be as comfortable as possible when they visit our office, so we do everything we can to give our guests a comfortable, calming environment. But there are a few things you can do on your own to help make your visit a little easier.
1. Talk with your dentist
If you’re stressed about your upcoming visit to our office, one of the best things you can do is talk with us about it. Having a clear understanding of what your visit will be like – even visualizing what will occur during your appointment – can do wonders. It’s possible we can make special accommodations to make things more comfortable for you. You’re not the first person who’s been worried about a visit to your dentist’s office, and you won’t be the last! We’re here to help.
2. Plan your appointment well
Yes, life is stressful. But you don’t need the stress of life to cause extra anxiety during your dental appointment. If you’re already nervous about your visit, it won’t help to carry in the anxiety of a bad day at work. Schedule your appointment for a day when you don’t have anything big going on outside of our office. If you have a dental appointment scheduled, try to keep the rest of the day clear. That way, your mind can be rested and fresh for your procedure.
3. Bring a friend
Bringing someone you trust to our office with you is one of the best ways to reduce the stress of your dental appointment. Not only will your companion’s presence be comforting, but that person can help make sure everything is going well and get you home safely if you’re under the effects of anesthesia. Pleasant conversation can distract you from your nervousness and help pass the time more quickly.
4. Take deep breaths
We all know that deep, relaxing breaths can help reduce our stress, but sometimes we need a reminder. If you’re feeling anxiety about your visit as you drive to our office or you begin feeling fear as you sit in our waiting room, begin by taking a deep breath in, holding it for a second, and slowly letting it out. That’s the most basic start toward relaxation, and it works for almost any situation. Continue relaxing breaths throughout your appointment.
Whatever the cause of your anxiety over a visit to our office for your cleaning or other dental procedure, we can manage it together. We want all our patients to be as comfortable as possible, and we want you to look at your visit to the dentist as a good thing. If you have any questions about a dental procedure, or if there is something we can do to ease your worry, give us a call at 205-308-1801. We’ll work as a team to keep your next visit to the dentist stress-free!