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"Can I request sedation dentistry if visiting the dentist makes me nervous?"


I get very, very anxious at the dentist's office. Will sedation help?


Sedation dentistry is a type of dentistry that specializes in helping the anxious patient. It is a relatively new specialty that not all dentists are comfortable with. I would recommend discussing this with your local dentist in order to better appreciate the intricacies.

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Dental work is a very common procedure. Beyond the normal cleaning, there are other procedures that are required for treatment as well as maintenance of your dental and oral health. Sedation dentistry refers to when the dentist gives the patient medicines (either a pill, an injection or an inhaled gas) that allows for decreased anxiety. Often the patient is still awake as responding to commands is needed to perform the procedure. The dose of the medicine is titrated till the patient can tolerate the procedure so if often effective. The most commonly used agent is inhaled nitrous oxide (or laughing gas as it is more commonly known). Keep in mind that this does not cause decreased pain -- you will still require injection of local anesthetics. There are risks with sedation dentistry. People can have problems when any medicine. In addition, rarely the sedation can cause someone to be so sleepy they no longer protect their airway and can have problems breathing. This can be very dangerous -- but is very rare. Also keep in mind insurance rarely covers this. Again, please talk to your dentist.

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