It’s been estimated that around 15 percent of Americans suffer from what is known as odontophobia, or dental anxiety. That’s about 40 million people! For many of those people, that fear keeps them from seeing the dentist as often as they should – and for some, it prevents them from seeing the dentist at all. But dental anxiety doesn’t have to rule your life. Sedation dentistry is an easy, safe solution to helping patients with dental anxiety relax enough to complete their dental procedure. Here’s what you should know about sedation dentistry.
Sedation dentistry typically uses a gas called nitrous oxide, which is an oxide or chemical compound of nitrogen. Nitrous oxide is used in many applications, including to help pressurize whipped cream in some devices, but at the dentist it is delivered through a tube that runs from the tank to the patient’s nose. Often it is secured by a mask.
Nitrous oxide is generally tolerated well, but speak to Dr. George if you have any sleep issues such as sleep apnea prior to treatment. Nitrous oxide doesn’t put you completely to sleep, it just relaxes you and puts you in a state of calm euphoria. You may have heard of nitrous being referred to as “laughing gas” – that’s because it often makes patients so relaxed they can get a little bit giggly.
There Are No Lasting Effects
Nitrous oxide works while you are inhaling it, but it stops working as soon as the mask is removed. You may need a few minutes to recover before you start feeling normal again, but you should not require a ride home due to the nitrous, and you should be able to resume your normal daily activities without any lingering side effects.
It’s Not Just for Dental Fears
There are many other reasons for a patient to use nitrous oxide besides fear or anxiety. Nitrous can also benefit patients who have low pain tolerance, sensitive teeth and even sensitive gag reflex. In each of these cases, the nitrous can help relax you while you undergo your dental procedure and can be even used in conjunction with novocaine and other medications.
If you are interested in learning more about dental anxiety, nitrous oxide or any other sedation dentistry methods, please give Dr. George’s office a call at 724-934-3422.