Conscious Sedation and the Battle Against Odontophobia
Odontophobia, also known as dentophobia or dental anxiety, is a psychological condition involving fear or anxiety around going to the dentist or getting certain dental procedures. Dental anxiety is very common, with some experts estimating the number of Americans suffering from it to some degree as high as 40 million people. Many sufferers of dental anxiety experience only mild apprehension, but for some, the fear and anxiety can be so intense that they will live with gum disease, broken, rotted, or otherwise unsightly teeth, and even serious conditions like abscessed teeth. Fortunately, modern dental medicine has options to deal with odontophobia in both mild and more severe forms – enter conscious sedation.
What is Conscious Sedation?
Conscious sedation involves the use of sedative or dissociative drugs, sometimes used in conjunction with an analgesic. In the dental field, the most common drugs used for conscious sedation are nitrous oxide and benzodiazepines, like Xanax, Valium, or Ativan. Generally speaking, nitrous oxide is suitable in cases of mild to moderate dental anxiety, while benzodiazepines are appropriate for patients with moderate to severe dental anxiety.
The main advantage of conscious sedation versus anesthesia is that it is more mild and causes less of a disturbance in the patients daily life. In many cases, the patient will even be able to drive themselves to and from their appointment. It also is far less likely to cause disturbances in respiratory or cardiovascular function than anesthesia. However, the risk is still present, and consequently a qualified provider monitors patients closely throughout treatment.
Conscious sedation can help many people deal with their dental anxiety and get them the care they need. In cases of extreme dental anxiety, it can even save a patient’s life if they are suffering from early stages of sepsis.
If you feel apprehensive about going to the dentist, or are putting off a treatment you need, conscious sedation may be the right fit for you. Give us a call today and we’ll answer all your questions. That way you can see if it might be a good fit for you.