Dental Anxiety

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What is sedation dentistry?
What are the sedation options available?
Do you offer general anaesthesia?

What is sedation dentistry?

Sedation dentistry is performed to provide a relaxing and anxiety-free experience while receiving dental treatment. It enables people too afraid to go to the dentist to receive the dental care they need while avoiding the common apprehension known as dental phobia. It is estimated that up to 30% of the population avoids the dentist due to fear. This is a true social issue that puts phobic patient’s oral health in jeopardy.

When you are afraid, your threshold for pain is much lower and you become hypersensitive to every sensation, prick, noise and even smell. You anticipate that something is going to hurt and accordingly, you contract your muscles, even if it is subconsciously. In this heightened state of anxiety, you experience more pain during and even after treatment. This response can virtually be eliminated with sedation dentistry. Your anxiety will literally melt away!

Before anything is implemented, we will first welcome you into a calm environment, so that you can have an open discussion with Dr. Gaumet about your fears and experiences.

Sedation is a process used to establish a relaxed and calm state before and during a dental procedure through the use of sedatives. It also makes some people more comfortable during long procedures such as a smile makeover or mouth reconstruction. More complex treatments that normally require multiple appointments can then be performed in fewer sessions.

A major benefit of sedation dentistry is that you will not remember the visit. What might have seemed like a one-minute dental procedure, in fact, took a few hours to carry out!

Essentially, sedation refers to the use of a drug, or a combination of drugs, able to produce a state of depression of the nervous system enabling treatment to be carried out, but during which verbal contact with the patient is maintained throughout the period of sedation. For the sake of a successful treatment, keeping the patient cooperative and responsive to verbal commands during the procedure can sometimes prove critical. For example, there is a higher incidence of nerve injuries when wisdom teeth are removed under general anaesthesia.

Sedation is different from anaesthetic shots. Most dental treatments still require a local anaesthetic that will block pain signals from the affected area. However, if getting a shot in your gums is frightening to you, dental sedation will calm and relax you to a point where you can handle receiving the injection. You won’t even be bothered by or remember the sensation of having that shot!

What are the sedation options available?

Inhalation sedation

This is the mildest category of sedation. Anxiolysis is achieved through a mix of medications. In this case, it is oxygen and nitrous oxide that you breathe through a nose hood. Nitrous oxide is the inappropriately named “laughing gas”. It is odorless and extremely safe. It gives you a feeling of euphoria, a sense of floating. You may just experience some degree of tingling in the extremities. It does not affect your bodily functions whatsoever. During the procedure, you remain awake and cognizant of your surroundings. Its effects wear off almost immediately so there is no hangover effect.

This is recommended for patients who are just a little nervous and who just need to take the edge off,  knowing that they will be completely numb throughout and not feel any pain during surgery. However, it is not powerful enough to counter intermediate-to-severe anxiety. Yet, this is the only option that allows you to drive yourself home after the procedure.

Oral sedation

This form of sedation is achieved through ingestion or dissolution under the tongue of medications such as benzodiazepines. It may be combined with nitrous oxide to induce deeper sedation than would be produced with oral medications alone, and it usually produces a deeper form of sedation than does nitrous oxide. It is best used for patients with moderate to intermediate apprehension.

Though you’re awake during your procedure, you’ll remember little of the appointment after it’s over. Dr. Gaumet will determine if you need to be hooked up to equipment that monitors your vital signs during your treatment. The sedative will leave you a little drowsy, but the effects will wear off after hours. An adult is required to drive you home though.

Intravenous (IV) Sedation

The sedative, usually midazolam, is delivered into your body through an IV line attached to a tiny catheter placed in a vein in your arm or hand. You are not put asleep but rather in a safer semi-awake state. You remember little or nothing of your time in the dental chair because of the amnesic property of the drugs. Hours seem to pass like mere minutes so that necessary treatment can be performed comfortably. Even though you get pretty drowsy, and may even drift in and out of sleep, you are easily aroused by a gentle touch or verbal command.

There is no need for medical assistance to maintain adequate breathing and heart function. Breathing, cough and gag reflexes are maintained at all time. In that, IV sedation should not be mistaken for general anaesthesia. However, heart rate, pulse, and oxygen saturation levels in your blood have to be monitored at all time. IV sedation is the way to go for highly anxious patients, or for those patients who have medical conditions that make it necessary to reduce the level of stress during dental treatment.

Frequently, some type of opioid analgesic such as meperidine is added to the IV sedative medication. They help with pain control during dental procedures and with pain relief after the procedures are completed.

Patients are not allowed to drive themselves home after the procedure.

Do you offer general anaesthesia?


In office

Technically, general anaesthesia is not a sedation technique. We use it for extremely anxious patients. The major difference here is that you are totally asleep and cannot be aroused, not even by painful stimuli. You may not breathe independently and you lose your survival reflexes. It can also alter heart rate. An anesthesiologist is required. All vital signs are monitored. We also make sure that your airway is protected, so nothing can go down your air pipe.

The medication of choice that we use is propofol. Propofol is very fast acting and wears off very quickly. However, it requires specialized equipment.

Hospital Dentistry

As an accredited doctor of the private medical center La Source in Lausanne, we are able to offer hospital dental treatments. This service caters to extremely apprehensive people, or to patients with underlying medical conditions which do not make them good candidates for in-office care.

Many of these treatments are performed on an out-patient basis, which allows you to go home the same day. Our staff will assist in the coordination of all services needed, both dental and hospital.

Do not be reluctant to change the appearance of your smile because you are apprehensive about undergoing long or complicated dental sessions. With sedation dentistry, you can conquer anxiety and pain.

Dr Gaumet has undergone extensive training in advanced sedation techniques and is certified in the USA to provide a myriad of sedation modalities to meet your individual needs.

Contact Us for an Appointment Today

Whether you are in need of comprehensive care or wish to receive a routine teeth cleaning, don’t let dental anxiety hold you back. Don’t put off your visit because of fear!  Call our office and schedule your next treatment with sedation.

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