Dental Anxiety? Sedation Dentistry Could Help
Fear of having dental work done is a very familiar condition. Dental anxiety and dental phobia are terms that cover a variety of factors. These include fear of dentistry, fears about receiving dental care, and even fear of dental professionals.
Many people have had these types of feelings from time to time. Fear is natural in life. Some would even say it is necessary to survival. However, when fear interferes with seeking help or maintaining health, that’s a very real problem.
Fortunately, there are ways to ease dental anxiety. Sedation dentistry is one way that many dentists and their patients have found to be quite helpful.
Dental Anxiety Definition and Prevalence
It’s hard to say just how many people suffer from dental anxiety. A widely cited study found that nearly 12% of people who took part in a random phone survey said they had high dental fear. In addition, 17.5% of the survey sample had moderate dental fear.
More than a third of the people who took part in the survey – 36.5% – had not been to a dentist in over a year. The study leaders labeled people in this group as “dental avoiders.” Dental avoiders include people who will put up with embarrassment and physical pain rather than seek help.
Just under half of this group – 15.5% – also said they had “some degree of dental fear.” People who avoid the dentist out of fear may have gum infections, untreated cavities, even broken or crooked teeth. Yet, their fears prevent them from seeking the help they so badly need.
About Sedation Dentistry
For many, a trip to the dentist can be too much to bear. They may worry about the pain or the cost of treatment. Putting off treatment, however, can lead to problems with overall health. That’s because poor oral health may lead to infections, strokes and heart disease.
Dentists use a variety of medications to help stop pain. In addition, they can offer meds that can help their patients get past their fears. Patients typically remain awake when sedation is used. The various levels of sedation include the following:
- Minimal: this is a state of wakeful relaxation
- Moderate or “conscious” sedation: patients may slur their speech and not recall much of what happens while “under”
- Deep: patients are on the “edge of consciousness” near “sleep”
Unlike the above states, “general anesthesia” produces a fully unconscious state. Specially trained dentists may use this type of sedation in specific situations.
There is no reason to allow fear to undermine your health and happiness. If you are scared of the dentist but need treatment, sedation dentistry may help. Talk with your dentist or family physician about the problems you are facing so you can get the help you need.
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