Some people suffer with anxiety and phobias related to receiving dental examinations and treatment. In some instances, these phobias can be so severe that people forego the oral care they need and deserve. Our practice understands that some people struggle with uncontrollable fears and anxiety, and this is why we offer sedation dentistry. We strive to provide comfortable healthcare so that all patients in our community can enjoy positive experiences with their dental treatment.

Dental Fears and Phobias

Fears of the dentist’s office can arise from a dislike of the sounds, sensations, and smells a person experiences or from previous dental treatment that was uncomfortable. Many times, these fears can manifest in adolescence and worsen if one has a predisposition to anxiety disorders. Phobias are specific and intense fears that develop over time, often worsening with age.

Beyond dental fears, examples of common phobias include intense anxiety with heights or spiders. There are various approaches one can take to overcome phobias such as undergoing therapy or practicing mindfulness. If a person has dental phobias or anxiety, sedation dentistry can help ease the mind so that new, positive experiences can be established.


Types of Sedation

Dr. Weakley utilizes different methods of sedation to ensure our patients have comfortable and positive experiences during treatment. One of the most common methods of sedation dentistry is the use of nitrous oxide, often called “laughing gas”. Nitrous oxide has been used in medical settings for over one hundred years. This gas is delivered via a soft nasal mask. It quickly produces euphoric and calming effects as it is inhaled. In addition to calming one’s mind, nitrous oxide has analgesic effects to promote comfort. This sedation option is ideal for mild to moderate anxiety and less invasive procedures. Once the mask is removed, the effects of nitrous oxide wear off quickly. This means that patients can drive themselves to and from treatment.

A second option for those with dental anxiety is the administration of prescription tablets. For those who need this type of sedation, our dentist will prescribe medication from the benzodiazepine class of drugs. This type of medicine is a mild sedative that is formulated to work on the GABA receptors in the brain to prohibit the chemical reactions that cause feelings of intense fear and anxiety. Since this type of medication impairs cognitive and motor function, patients receiving prescription medication must arrange for transportation to and from their appointments.

When it comes to more invasive treatment, conscious sedation is useful for those with fears and phobias as well as those in need of more powerful medication to maintain comfort. Conscious sedation involves administering sedating and analgesic medication intravenously. While a person is not induced in an unconscious state, he or she will be able to sleep peacefully during treatment. When conscious sedation is used, vitals are monitored very closely and patients are still able to respond to questions and instructions.

If you suffer with dental anxiety, we invite you to discuss your needs with our team. Our objective is to accommodate all our patients to the best of our abilities. Call us today to reserve an appointment with Dr. Weakley.

Common Questions

Dental anxiety and phobia refers to a person experiencing intense fear and nervousness before and during dental treatment. For some patients, dental phobias develop after a negative experience with oral health treatment. Others may have anxiety related to any type of clinical setting while some might have nervousness related to the sounds of dental instruments. Many people suffer with dental anxiety and phobia. Fortunately, sedation dentistry can help increase comfort for those with clinical anxieties. Sedation helps ease one’s mind so that a person can relax during treatment.
Conscious sedation refers to the administration of sedating and/or pain relieving medication without inducing a medically unconscious state. This is done by supplying medication through an intravenous feed. Conscious sedation will ease anxiety substantially. It also increases comfort. The medication used for conscious sedation is so relaxing that most people will sleep peacefully through their procedures but if necessary, can be awakened to respond to questions or instructions.
Laughing gas is a compound called nitrous oxide. This compound has pain-relieving and sedating effects that work quickly. Nitrous oxide is administered through a soft nasal mask. Once treatment is complete, the mask is removed and the effects of laughing gas quickly subside. Nitrous oxide is ideal for those with moderate anxiety and for minimally invasive procedures like placing fillings and preparing teeth for dental crowns. Since the effects of nitrous oxide wear off quickly, patients can drive home whereas those who receive prescription medication will need to arrange for transportation to and from their appointment with a friend or family member.
The price of sedation dentistry depends on the type of sedation a person is receiving. For example, nitrous oxide and prescription tablets taken orally are very affordable. Conscious sedation, however, costs more because intravenous feeds and machinery to monitor vitals are involved. If you have questions about the cost of your sedation dentistry options, we recommend speaking with our staff for estimates.