Overcome Anxiety & Phobia with Sedation Dentistry

By Dr. Brett Silverman | Aug 18, 2023 | Anxiety/Sedation Dentistry
Overcome Anxiety & Phobia with Sedation Dentistry

Dental anxiety, dental phobia, and being scared of the dentist are real and problematic feelings that may keep you from visiting the dentist. Without proper dental care, you may experience poor oral health, dental pain, loss of teeth, and overall health risks. Whether you just don’t like dental visits or you avoid going to the dentist at all costs, we’d like to introduce you to sedation dentistry at Advanced Cosmetic & Family Dentistry of Alpharetta, GA.

Drs. Morton and Silverman have helped patients with fears ranging from moderate anxiety to severe dental phobia find a way to attend checkups and cleanings, as well as procedures, with mental and physical comfort. Sedation dentistry can help you overcome your fears and get the dental care you need, as well as the good oral health and beautiful smile you deserve.

Do any of the following statements describe you?

  • I feel anxious about scheduling, preparing for, and attending a dental appointment.
  • I feel fearful sitting in the waiting room, and I really want to bolt out the door.
  • I feel overwhelming anxiety sitting in the dental chair.
  • I dislike the feeling of the dentist’s hands in my mouth.
  • I feel no sense of control during dental treatment.
  • I have flashbacks of bad experiences at a dentist’s office.
  • I fear pain.
  • I know the dentist and dental team will judge me because my oral health is so poor.
  • I altogether avoid going to the dentist. I haven’t been in years.

If the answer is yes, then this article could change your life! 

Don’t Suffer Alone

The first step can only be taken by you, and it will be a challenge. No one can make you go to the dentist and sit through an appointment. No one can make you undergo dental procedures, even necessary treatments. You have to decide that your health is more important than your feelings and trust that sedation dentistry can help you as it has helped countless others.

When you call our office, please communicate your fear, anxiety, phobia, or concerns with us so that we can prepare to provide you with the best possible appointment. Knowing your sensitivities and concerns will help our team help you to the very best of our abilities. Most importantly, know that you are not alone. You’re not alone in feeling the way you feel, and you’re not alone in wanting a safe, comfortable, anxiety-free dental visit. We are here with you and for you!

Also, please understand that we do not judge our patients. In fact, we respect and admire patients who visit us after years without professional dental care. It takes a strong person to make the life-changing and health-improving decision to visit the dentist, despite feelings of fear, anxiety, or phobia.

Types of Anesthesia and Sedation

Besides local anesthetic, we offer three types of sedation to help patients find peace of mind and body at dental appointments. Dr. Morton or Dr. Silverman can help you decide which type is best for you. The level of anxiety you feel and the types of procedures you need will factor into the decision.

Nitrous Oxide

Also called laughing gas, nitrous oxide is a sedating gas inhaled through a facemask. Nitrous oxide alleviates mental stress and prompts feelings of relaxation, calmness, and euphoria. Under the effects of nitrous oxide, patients don’t recognize pain or discomfort. Some people even giggle, and that’s how this sedative got the nickname of laughing gas.

Patients who can come to the office and sit in the dental chair without overwhelming anxiety are great candidates for nitrous oxide. The gas is considered conscious sedation because the patient retains the ability to speak and communicate with our team and is not made to go to sleep. However, some patients nod off. Most of our nitrous oxide patients report remembering little or nothing about their treatment.

Nitrous oxide is a preferred sedation dentistry option for people who need to drive or return to work after their dental appointment. When we stop administering nitrous oxide, its sedating effects wear off immediately. You’ll be safe to drive and continue normally with your daily routine after your visit. 

Oral Sedation

If you need medication to help alleviate the fear of going to the dentist’s office, as well as sitting in the waiting room and the dental chair, oral sedation may be the best choice. Patients who choose oral sedation must have accompaniment (usually a friend or relative) by a person who will remain in our office during the appointment. Your friend/relative must also drive you home after the visit. Under oral sedation, you should not drive or make important decisions.

Oral sedation comes in the form of a pill. The dentist may prescribe halcyon or valium, and you’ll need to have the prescription filled prior to your appointment. In most cases, we ask the patient to take the medication an hour prior to their appointment.

Though you’ll feel sleepy, oral sedation doesn’t put someone “under” like IV sedation. You may fall asleep, but if the dentist gently wakes you, you’ll be able to respond to his instructions. However, you will not feel pain, discomfort, fear, or anxiety while under the effects of oral sedation. 

After your dental treatment, you’ll need to stay home for the remainder of the day, and you’ll probably nap. Return to work and normal activities the next day, unless the procedure you had dictates staying home for recovery. 

IV Sedation

Patients with a crippling phobia may be advised to choose IV sedation. Intravenous sedation is administered into the bloodstream by an IV line. Depending on the dosage, you may experience what’s called twilight sedation; you’ll remain conscious but feel drowsy and calm and have minor amnesia about the appointment after the medication wears off. If a greater amount of medication is administered, the patient will be put completely to sleep.

IV sedation begins working about 15 to 30 minutes after we begin delivery. Over 12 hours, the effects will subside significantly, and within 24 hours the patient should feel no lingering effects. However, you do need a driver to take you home and stay with you until the effects wear off. Plan to take the day off and do not drive or return to work the day of your appointment. 

Patients should avoid tobacco and alcohol for 24 hours before having IV sedation. You will also be instructed when to stop taking in foods and liquids. IV sedation can cause nausea, so we prefer the patient to have an empty stomach when arriving at our office.

Causes of Dental Fear, Anxiety, & Phobia

When something negative happens to us, it’s human nature to want to avoid repeating the experience. People who have had trauma at a dentist’s office may develop dental fear, anxiety, or even the most acute type of dental fear, called dental phobia. 

The feelings of fear, negative expectations, and the desire to avoid the dentist are real and legitimate. If you’ve experienced any of the issues in the list below, you may also have dental fear, anxiety, or phobia.

  • Head and neck trauma
  • Traumatic experiences
  • Chronic or intense pain
  • Abuse
  • Generalized anxiety
  • Depression
  • PTSD
  • Invasion of personal space
  • The need for total control

Sedation Dentistry Can Change Your Life

We want you to enjoy good oral and overall health, as well as a beautiful smile. For some people, achieving these goals means overcoming anxiety and phobia with medication. Dr. Morton or Dr. Silverman will help you decide which type of sedation dentistry will make you feel relaxed and calm during your dental appointment. Schedule a consultation today by calling 678.389.9000. Advanced Cosmetic & Family Denitstry is located off North Point Parkway in Alpharetta, GA.