Fear of the dentist is something that many people have and while dentists have spent recent years campaigning to alleviate the stress some people have about dental visits, there are still those who have inherent misgivings about the experience and suffer various health setbacks due to it. These anxieties about going to the dentist, especially for surgery like dental implants, are numerous and can exist for a variety of reasons. However sleep dentistry, which is overseen by an in-house anesthesiologist, is available in order to give patients the relaxation and comfort they need to step into the practice and see a procedure through to the end.
The dentist and fear explained
Dental anxiety can stem from a previously bad experience at the dentist sometimes in a patient’s past. The human brain will do just about anything to avoid pain and this causes a flight or fight response which is an inherent survival instinct – humans are hardwired to avoid or repeat painful experiences. However, dental anxiety can also come from having a negative experience with the dentist themselves. Dentists are in a position of authority due to their medical expertise and patients can be made vulnerable by lying on their back with their mouth open for such a person and if their experience with a dentist was negative, perhaps they were cold or uncaring, the brain will produce adrenaline in the form of fear in order to get someone out of that vulnerable situation.
The human brain is capable of a great deal of learning but as neuroplasticity suggests, it is also capable of unlearning the same things or to at least change responses and reactions to certain situations. It is hoped that with sleep dentistry, over time, patients will be able to get over their dental anxieties.
Types of sedation
When having tooth implant surgery there are two options available to patients who require sedation in order to offer them peace and relaxation during the procedure. Patients shouldn’t have to suffer simply because their brains are overriding their logic with fear in response to a situation, it isn’t their fault, it is only human. Fears may extend past the concept of the dentist, like in the case of needles, which is the reason for having two options for sedation:
Intravenous (IV) sedation – A sedative drug will be supplied through injection throughout the procedure to keep patients relaxed and calm for their dental implant surgery. As with all medical sedation practices, patients will be closely monitored by an anesthesiologist to ensure that they remain calm as well as conscious.
Inhalation sedation – some patients have an overwhelming fear of needles as well as the dentist so it will not do to sedated them with an IV, in this case, dentists supply patients with a combination of nitrous oxide and oxygen gas which keeps them calm during their surgery. Though the patients remain awake, they will experience an overwhelming sensation of relaxation.
Disclaimer: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.