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Monday, October 17, 2011

A Dream Cure for Dental Anxiety

According to Columbia University College of Dental Medicine, about 30-40 million Americans suffer from some degree of dental anxiety. There’s good news if you’re someone who gets sweaty palms at the thought of going to the dentist. Sedation or “sleep” dentistry can help you get the dental care you need without being crippled by swells of anxiety and debilitating fear.

If you like choices, you'll love sedation dentistry. You can choose from light to mild sedation, which help you feel relaxed and calm but keep you awake and aware, or deep sedation, which puts you to sleep and makes you unaware of treatment. Unsure what's right for you? Consider talking to your dentist about the range of sedation options now available.

Sleep dentistry is a catchall term used to describe a dental office that offers IV dental sedation or general anesthesia or both. This type of sedation dentistry is ideal for people with mild dental anxiety. With IV sedation, you won't feel, hear, taste or smell anything and won't have any memory of the procedure. However, you may be conscious enough to respond to the sedation dentist. General anesthesia is the most complete form of sedation, under which you are totally asleep and unaware.

Conscious sedation dentistry refers to light and moderate forms of sedation, including nitrous oxide and oral sedation. A sedation dentist administers nitrous oxide through a mask and oral sedation through a pill. With conscious sedation, you remain awake and aware but also relaxed.

Dental sedation is not a painkiller. It is designed to relax patients who feel nervous or anxious during dental treatments. With dental conscious sedation, patients remain awake and able to respond to the dentist. Under general anesthesia, patients are completely unconscious. To help with pain, sedation dentists rely on a local anesthetic like novocaine to numb parts of the mouth that require dental work.

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