Each of us has unique feelings and concerns about our dental health. Some of our patients get nervous even thinking about going to the dentist or avoid going altogether. Dental phobia is much more common than you might expect. It is for these patients that we offer a variety of solutions that will eliminate any anxiety. Imagine showing up at our offices, taking a pill and waking up with all of your dental work complete. It is a wonderful service and one that we are extremely proud to provide for our family of patients.
Sedation Dentistry is the process by which a patient is sedated and still conscious throughout the dental procedure, however they are in a relaxed state and often do not remember the procedure at all. Only qualified dentists can perform Sedation Dentistry, they must have the comprehensive training to ensure the complete safety of the patient.
In addition to relaxing the patient, Sedation Dentistry allows for dental work that would have ordinarily taken multiple visits to be completed with only one visit. This allows for the patient to avoid missing extra work or school and helps to ease their fears about having to repeat an unpleasant experience again and again.
There are a number of reasons why our patients may need sedation while undergoing treatment. A patient may have moderate to severe fear, or phobia, suffer from cognitive or general anxiety disorders, or a patient may have a sensitive gag reflex, or any number of medical or age-related conditions that compromise his/her ability to remain still enough to ensure utmost safety during treatment.
Understanding your sleep and sedation dentistry options can help you and Dr. Hansen work together to determine your best sedation solution. With many years of experience working with special care and special needs patients, Dr. Hansen is experienced in offering a spectrum of sedation dentistry options.
Conscious sedation is what terms such as “relaxation,” or “comfortable” dentistry are referring to. Conscious sedation can be achieved with nitrous oxide (best for patients with minimal anxiety or fear), or—for a deeper sedative result—with oral sedation such as valium (best for patients exhibiting mild fear, a mild gag reflex or for simpler/quicker procedures). Both of these conscious sedation options have been developed to relax patients who might otherwise experience heightened sensitivity as their pain or anxiety thresholds are aggravated by chemicals our bodies release in response to fear. Each conscious sedation option can be used alone, or may be combined to customize your depth and duration of sedation
- Nitrous Oxide (inhalation sedation):
Used for over 100 years, it is an excellent analgesic administered via a nasal hood, and easily fine-tuned by the dentist. All bodily functions remain essentially normal, and effects wear off quickly.
- Oral Conscious Sedation:
The patient administers this him/herself, usually about an hour before treatment. After consulting with us, we will determine the most appropriate oral sedation medication and dosage based upon your health history and necessary duration of action. An added bonus of this option is that it has an amnesic that often leaves a patient with little or no memory after treatment.
Although Palo Alto Dentist strives to make every patient feel comfortable and safe in our care, we realize that fears of the dentist are a very real concern affecting a good portion of the population to some degree, and an estimated 10-15% of the population to a greater degree. This latter group of patients has what is known as dental phobia, and it often prevents them from seeking regular treatment to the detriment of their oral, and therefore overall, health. Patients with dental phobia might consistently make and break dental appointments (a fearful “fleeing instinct”), or they become no-shows because their fear of the dentist causes avoidance. At our Palo Alto Dental Practice, we do not want any patient to suffer with infections, broken teeth, or generally poor smile appeal because they cannot overcome dental phobia. We want to treat you before a tooth gets infected or broken, or your gums require intense periodontal work.
Dental phobias and stress can be so severe and operate on such a subconscious level that they can lead to “dental fear dreams,” or panic attacks that are marked by classic symptoms of increased breathing and heart rates and sweating. This is why we offer a range of sedation dentistry options. We can work with you to best manage your fear.