Relieving dental anxiety: the power of sedation dentistry

By: Dental Holistix

For many individuals, the mere thought of a dental appointment can trigger anxiety. The sight of dental tools, the clinical environment and the fear of potential discomfort can make dental visits intimidating. However, at Dental Holistix, we provide solutions that can alleviate these anxieties through the power of sedation dentistry. This gentle and effective approach has transformed the dental experience for numerous patients, enabling them to receive essential treatments with a sense of calm and confidence.

Understanding sedation dentistry

Sedation dentistry encompasses various methods to help patients relax and feel comfortable during dental procedures.

At Dental Holistix we offer the following:

1) Inhaled sedation (nitrous oxide)

Also known as “laughing gas,” this method involves inhaling a gas through a mask to induce mild relaxation and reduce anxiety. It is often used for individuals with mild to moderate anxiety.

How it works

Administration of medication
Nitrous oxide is a colourless and odourless gas that is mixed with oxygen before being delivered to the patient. It is administered through a small nose piece that covers the patient’s nose. The mask is connected to a machine that controls the flow and concentration of the gas.

The patient is asked to breathe normally through the mask. As they inhale the nitrous oxide-oxygen mixture, they will start to feel its effects within a few minutes. Nitrous oxide is a fast-acting sedative

Quick relaxation
Nitrous oxide induces a sense of relaxation and calmness. It can also create a feeling of lightheadedness or euphoria, which is why it’s sometimes called “laughing gas.” Importantly, patients remain conscious and can respond to the dentist’s instructions throughout the procedure.

Pain perception
While nitrous oxide can help reduce anxiety, it does not replace local anaesthesia for pain control. The dentist will still administer local anaesthesia prior to starting the procedure.

Adjustable dosage
One of the advantages of nitrous oxide is its adjustability. The dentist can easily control the level of sedation by adjusting the concentration of the gas. This allows for a customised and comfortable experience for each patient.

Once the dental treatment is complete, the flow of nitrous oxide is stopped, and the patient is switched to pure oxygen for a few minutes. This helps clear any remaining nitrous oxide from their system.

As the effects of the sedation will be completely gone within a few minutes of stopping the sedation, you will be able to return to your normal daily activities including driving yourself home or back to work. This is a great option for those people that are unable to find someone to drive them home, or need to pick up / look after kids etc.

2) IV sedation

During IV sedation, medication is administered through an intravenous line. It allows for a deeper level of sedation and is often used for patients with moderate to more severe anxiety or for more complex dental procedures. 

How it works

Administration of medication
IV sedation involves the administration of sedative medications through a small, thin tube (intravenous line) inserted into a vein, usually in the arm or hand – such as when having a blood test. The medications used are carefully selected and administered by our trained healthcare professionals, typically our dentist with specialised sedation training.

Gradual relaxation
After the IV sedation medication is delivered, it usually takes just a few minutes for you to start feeling its effects. You will gradually begin to feel more relaxed and calm, and your anxiety and nervousness will subside.

Controlled and monitored state
One significant advantage of IV sedation is that it allows our dental professionals to continually adjust the level of sedation throughout the procedure. We can ensure you remain in a comfortable and safe level of sedation, neither too deep nor too shallow.  Throughout the dental procedure, the dental team will closely monitor the patient’s vital signs, such as heart rate and oxygen saturation, to ensure their safety and wellbeing.

Reduced awareness and memory loss
IV sedation typically results in a decreased awareness of your surroundings and the dental treatment, and it is quite common to not remember parts of the procedure, or sometimes even the entire process.

Pain management
While IV sedation induces relaxation, it does not replace the need for local anaesthesia (numbing injections or gels) for pain control. Local anaesthesia is still administered to ensure that you don’t experience pain during the dental treatment. 

Before and aftercare
It is extremely important to closely follow the instructions given to you by our team. Please make sure our staff are aware of all medications and medical conditions, and ensure you arrive on an empty stomach (no food for 4 hours prior). Afterward, you will need to leave with a responsible adult who can take you home and watch over you for the rest of the day to make sure you are ok. Please avoid driving, working, operating any heavy machinery/ dangerous equipment, and avoid making any important decisions or financial transactions. 

Benefits of sedation dentistry 

Sedation dentistry offers numerous advantages for both patients and dentists. It effectively alleviates dental anxiety and phobias, facilitating essential dental care.

  • Patients report increased comfort during procedures, as they are relaxed and free from anxiety-induced heightened pain perception. 
  • Sedation can make longer or more complex procedures more manageable, potentially reducing the need for multiple appointments.

  • Dentists can work more effectively when patients are relaxed and cooperative, leading to better treatment outcomes.

Is sedation dentistry right for you?

Sedation dentistry is a safe and effective option for many patients, although it may not be suitable for everyone. Decisions regarding its use are made on a case-by-case basis, considering a patient’s medical history, current medications and the nature of the dental procedure. Patients who benefit most from sedation dentistry include those with dental anxiety, strong gag reflexes, sensitive teeth or a need for extensive dental work.

If dental anxiety has hindered you from seeking necessary care, discussing sedation dentistry with one of our dentists can be transformative. It has the potential to not only make your dental visits anxiety-free but also enhance your overall oral health and well-being. With sedation dentistry, a dental appointment can become a positive and comfortable experience, ensuring the health and beauty of your smile for years to come.

Book in for a consultation with Dr Nick Williams

Dr Nick Williams is dedicated to providing long-lasting dentistry of the highest quality and equipping patients to achieve the best oral health possible. He is also an expert in sedation services for a comfortable and lasting oral health experience.

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