Are you afraid of going to the dentist? You are not alone. Dental aversion is real. It can take just one bad trip to the dentist as a child or teen to put you off dentistry for life.
Dental anxieties are a substantial problem for many patients in the UK, almost one-third of patients experience some degree of dental worry and, in severe cases, this leads to them avoiding check-ups and putting off treatment.
This can have much larger consequences than it initially seems, anxious patients are not only more likely to receive treatment later but this treatment is more likely to be invasive and costly compared to preventive measures.
Also, a lot of the concerns seem to be due to a breakdown in communication between the dentist Harley Street and nervous patients. This can be due to the patient’s priority being to end their appointment as quickly as possible, and the dental professional wants to assess them further.
Indeed, with the rise in online dental blogs and vlogs, more patients who have aversions are attempting at-home dental care rather than seeking professional help, which can obviously be dangerous and can create further issues.
One of the ways the dentists are attempting to make treatments more available to anxious patients is the use of IV sedation in the clinic.
The primary reason why sedation is restricted in clinics is due to the role of an anesthesiologist who, during full surgery, is responsible for maintaining the patient’s life signs and unconscious state.
Thus, full sedation has inherent risks which are mitigated by the anesthesiologist. It would be irresponsible to attempt full sedation in a standard dental clinic.
IV sedation is a halfway house between the current local numbing agents used in dentistry and full sedation. It does affect the central nervous system in that it creates a feeling of being relaxed and calm.
In this twilight sedated state, not only are you incapable of feeling any discomfort but anxiety is substantially reduced, heart rate is slowed and your memory of the procedure is likely to be impaired. But you still retain your consciousness and can communicate allowing your dentist to receive feedback from you during the procedure.
There have been many clinics experimenting with the use of benzodiazepines before procedures in order to aid the calming of patients. These oral medications have a much slower onset than IV sedation and can have a longer half-life.
What to expect if you are undergoing IV sedation
You have to avoid eating or drinking for 6 to 8 hours before undergoing sedation; you are required to wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing.
At the beginning of receiving sedation, you will be closely monitored for any adverse reactions or possible allergic reactions.
Within 30 seconds you should feel very relaxed and far less aware of your immediate surroundings and you are unlikely to remember any of the procedures that occur after this point.
It is not recommended to drive or carry out any strenuous activity for 24 hours after receiving sedation.
The future of the patient in dental clinics
What has made this kind of IV sedation possible is the development of drugs which can induce a twilight sedation, with a very large therapeutic index minimising the risk of respiratory depression. With such safe sedation methods available and considering how damaging avoiding dental care can be in the long term, the risk to benefit ratio has led to a growing adoption of IV sedation in dental practices.