An estimated 9-20% of Americans avoid getting the dental care they need because of anxiety or fear. Fortunately, there are many ways to relieve dental anxiety! First and foremost, please feel free to communicate your fears with us and we will be happy to discuss them with you, and adapt our approach as necessary. Other great tips include choosing a low-stress appointment time, bringing headphones and music, and practicing relaxation techniques and breathing. For our most anxious patients, we are happy to offer several comfortable and simple sedation services here at Rainier Beach Dental.
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Minimal Sedation (Oral Sedation)
Some patients opt to take an oral sedative (benzodiazepines) one hour prior to their appointment. This anxiety reducing sedative acts rapidly, and allows for the patient to remain fully awake during their treatment but feel more relaxed. However, it can be difficult to induce the sedative effect for some patients using this method.
Laughing Gas (Nitrous Oxide)
Known as “laughing gas,” nitrous oxide has pain relieving and anxiety reducing properties, and often leads to feelings of euphoria and extreme relaxation. When using nitrous oxide as a sedative, we carefully adjust the precise amount required for each patient and procedure. When used alone, patients can typically head out the door immediately after their appointment due to its short lived effects. However, when used in combination with sleep sedation, patients require someone to drive them home as well as supervision for 24 hours after the procedure.
We also offer intravenous sedation, in which sedatives and other drugs are administered through the vein. IV sedation has very few risks but many benefits for very anxious patients, or patients who need to undergo a large dental procedure. Depending on the level of sedation desired, it can induce varying stages of consciousness from moderate to deep sedation, and also blocks pain.