Almost everyone knows someone who is afraid of the dentist. It is one of the most common phobias, and one that many psychologists cannot really understand. After all, all of us dentists know that we only enter this side of medicine in order to help people and to help them to keep as healthy as possible. Whether you believe that horror films, a lack of knowledge and understanding, or just something very primal and instinctual is the reason that many fear visiting the dentist, the truth is that there are a lot of people that put off going to see the dentist for weeks, if not months, even though they know deep down that they need to see one.

This can in the very worst cases lead to patients developing dental problems that would never have been a problem if they had had the confidence to visit a dentist earlier, and this can be a very expensive and upsetting experience. That is why I always work my hardest to make sure that every single one of my patients, no matter how frightened they are of visiting the dentist. One of the ways in which I do that is a technique called oral conscious sedation.

Now that may sound a little strange and frightening itself! Thankfully it is something very tame; put simply, oral conscious sedation is when a patient is giving a very small amount of chemicals that in larger doses would put someone to sleep. But instead of knocking someone out completely and making them completely unconscious, I give them a smaller dose so that they can relax, and be less conscious and aware of what is going on around them. This relaxation means that although they are awake, and therefore able to continue their day relatively normally after the dental procedure, they are not completely awake and so tense and frightened about the treatment that they are going to receive. From a holistic perspective, a small amount of medication is often less harmful to the body than a prolonged spike in the chemicals our bodies can produce from fear.

This is a very efficient way of helping someone who is afraid of the dentist to receive treatment, and it is something that I have done with countless patients who are just not able to sit in my dentist’s chair for long enough to receive a necessary treatment without becoming very anxious. This is why some dental professionals will call this anxiety free dentistry, or sleep dentistry. The patient is not put to sleep directly, but in many cases they will almost snooze because they are so relaxed. Hundreds of thousands of American patients receive this specialised care so that they can have the teeth that they want and deserve without having to consciously fight their fear throughout the process.

Another brilliant side effect of this smaller amount of strong sedation is that it also acts as a painkiller, reducing the need for another second – or something third – type of chemical into the body. Many patients who want a more holistic approach to their dentistry, and want to keep their bodies as free from chemicals and other such foreign things as possible, prefer this time of pain relief. It works not only on a chemical level, but also on a physical level because much of the pain that we feel during dental treatments is due to our unconscious tensing of our muscles. When our muscles are relaxed by the sedation, then they are much able to stay relaxed even during what would normally be a traumatic experience.

Oral conscious sedation, on the other hand, is not for everyone. For every patient that is completely happy to choose this route of treatment, there will be someone else who has such a fear of the dentist that they will feel nauseous, have panic attacks, or even faint. For patients such as these, oral conscious sedation is simply not enough because as long as they are awake, the patient is likely to panic. In those cases I will, more often than not, suggest that oral unconscious sedation is the best course of action for them, because it will enable them to be completely unaware of everything that is happening.

If you are someone who is nervous about visiting a dentist, even though you know that it is a good idea, then I would highly recommend talking to me or another dental professional about the different options that are available to you, such as oral conscious sedation. Of course, every single patient is slightly different, but it has been a massive help for hundreds of thousands of people, and you could become one of them. The absolute last thing that I would want to happen is for you to ignore dental symptoms or dental problems because you were too anxious about coming to see a dentist, because that could very easily lead to bigger problems that will take even longer to treat – and end up being much more expensive too. To find out if oral conscious sedation is a good option for you, call (619) 640-5100 for a free consultation.

San Diego Dental Staff