Going to the dentist is tough for some people, including many kids. Fortunately there are ways to help both kids and worried adults get through dental procedures and teeth cleanings, even if they are highly anxious about doing so.
Also known as sleep dentistry, sedation dentistry uses anesthesia to relax the patient so they’ll be more comfortable during the procedure. Often all it takes it breathing in some nitrous oxide, otherwise known as laughing gas, to sail through a dental treatment.
Why do patients seek sedation dentistry?
There are many reasons a patient might opt for sedation dentistry. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about and it’s quite common. For example, some reasons that patients at Signature Smiles in Houston ask for sedation dentistry are:
Difficulty cooperating: some people (kids, in particular) have trouble sitting still in the dental chair and don’t cooperate during the procedure. Given that dentists and hygienists use sharp instruments in their mouths to clean teeth and fill cavities, it’s important for the patient to remain calm during dental procedures.
Fear of the dentist: every dentist aims to make patients both comfortable and happy in the dental chair, but the trays of foreign-looking tools, water picks and bright lights can be a bit unnerving. Sedation dentistry can make the visit a much more comfortable experience.
Gag reflex: not everyone can suppress their gag reflex while dentists are working in their mouth. Especially in little mouths, the gag reflex can be strong and no one wants a child – or an adult – throwing up or gagging during a dental procedure.
Major work or difficult procedures: If a child needs a lot of dental work or even just a cavity filled, it might be hard to lie quietly during the procedure. The sounds of drills, the feeling of the suction in the mouth and the numbing needle or gel is uncomfortable for some patients. While adults may have a better understanding of the steps the dentist is taking, the stress of an impending procedure can be just as difficult to manage.
If you’re considering sedation dentistry for yourself or for your child, it’s good to have a consultation with the dentist before using it. You’ll be able to get your questions answered before even approaching the dental chair. You’ll be instructed about what type of clothing to wear, when to eat/drink and what you might feel like after the anesthesia.
If the procedure will involve nitrous oxide (laughing gas), the dentist can show you the mask ahead of time. This is especially important when planning a procedure for children; this way they can become familiar with the mask they’ll be using and can get used to the feel of it on their face. They can also bring a comfort item like a toy to hold during the procedure and you’ll be in the room with them. The dentist and hygienist will talk to your child while they’re in the chair, to tell them what to expect before and as it happens.
Sleep dentistry can make a dental office visit a positive experience for those who don’t already like visiting!