Many people, despite their best efforts, are just plain afraid of dentists. We’ve blogged before about how to help encourage and foster a great relationship for your children with their dentist but the fact remains that for some, (including adults) it’s just too big a fear to overcome. There may be underlying reasons for that fear such as a previous bad experience or a physical health challenge that makes sitting in a dental chair virtually impossible. If you have a serious concern about whether you or your child can handle a lengthy procedure, perhaps it’s time to talk sleep dentistry.
Brinkley Dental can accommodate a variety of dental care situations. If you have a larger, potentially more complicated procedure to be done and the above paragraph best describes you or your child, we should chat about the options available. Patients may be able to cope with treatment using only a generalized freezing of the area. This is typical and accounts for most dental work done in a dental office. Freezing is relatively painless, typically involving only a couple of tiny needles inserted near the area to be worked on in order to numb it completely. That just might not cut it however, if you are having a root canal or need several teeth pulled. If that’s the case, nitrous oxide (aka laughing gas) or a general anesthesia (sleep dentistry) may be a better choice in order to help make your experience as comfortable as possible.
The process of using nitrous oxide is simple. “Nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas is a chemical compound ….. it is a colourless, non-flammable gas, with a slightly sweet odour and taste….. used in surgery and dentistry for its anesthetic and analgesic effects. It is known as “laughing gas” due to the euphoric effects of inhaling it, a property that has led to its recreational use…….”(1) Of course, that last point is irrelevant and illegal so we won’t pursue that line of use! For patients who have a dental fear, what you need to know is that under properly regulated circumstances and administered by a licensed Dentist, nitrous oxide can help even the most nervous of patients cope with a longer procedure because put simply, it helps you to relax. It is delivered through the nose and the patient breathes it in as he/she normally breathes. It won’t make you laugh despite its name but it does have a calming effect and helps numb any pain associated with the procedure. It has virtually no side effects for any patient and you never lose consciousness. Additionally, as quickly as the procedure is done, the gas is turned off and there are no residual lasting effects.
Sleep Dentistry involves a “general anesthetic …….. a drug that has the ability to bring about a reversible loss of consciousness. Anesthetists administer these drugs to induce or maintain general anesthesia to facilitate surgery.” (2) This of course is the technical definition according to Wikipedia. What patients need to know is that this type of anesthetic procedure is not to be undertaken lightly. A complete medical history and evaluation will be a part of your assessment and the drug itself will typically have to be administered via an IV. It may require a specialist to be part of your procedure. Your vital signs will be monitored throughout and you will most certainly need someone to accompany you to the appointment as driving afterwards is not feasible. Occasionally, depending on the type of procedure or your medical health history, it may be advisable to have your procedure completed in a hospital setting.
The most important thing to remember about any dental work is that good dental health complements and contributes to your overall health. If you need extensive dental work it is more important to your overall health that it not be delayed simply due to any underlying fears. Your dentist, like the team here at Brinkley, is ready, willing and able to help you overcome these fears or to work with you to find a way to accommodate them using a method that best suits you and your physical health status. Don’t delay a procedure. Come and talk to us and we will work together with you to determine a path of treatment that leaves you SMILING!