Sedation and Relaxation at the Dentist

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Let’s chat candidly about going to the dentist. Most would not put dental work or even a routine cleaning at the top of the list of favorite things to do. It’s an important part of our lives though, so we get a cleaning twice a year. Sometimes we might need a filling. At other times we might need a more ‘extended’ procedure like a root canal, implant or extraction.

For many, going to the dentist is something to be tolerated. For some, it can be down right dreadful. The stress and anxiety about going to the dentist that some patients feel can be debilitating, but it doesn’t have to be.

Each patient has their own threshold of anxiety. Sometimes a few deep breaths can take care of that. At other times, it requires a more clinical approach. Below are a few of the most common ways to deal with the fears, stress and anxiety of going to the dentist:

IV Sedation
This is given by injection, either in the back of your hand or in your arm. The dose will depend on the amount of treatment needed and how long it will take to complete. When sedated, patients become drowsy and unaware of any treatment, but they are still able to co-operate with the dentist. You won’t be able to drink alcohol, drive or work machinery while the sedative wears off.

Relaxation Techniques
There is no medicine involved in relaxation techniques, but they can be just as effective. These techniques employ a ‘mind-over-matter’ philosophy and are useful in all stressful situations, not just the dentist’s chair.

Autogentic relaxation
In this relaxation technique, you use both visual imagery and body awareness to reduce stress. You repeat words or suggestions in your mind to relax and reduce muscle tension.
For example, you may imagine a peaceful setting and then focus on controlled, relaxing breathing, slowing your heart rate, or feeling different physical sensations, such as relaxing each arm or leg one by one.

Progressive muscle relaxation
In this relaxation technique, you focus on slowly tensing and then relaxing each muscle group. This helps you focus on the difference between muscle tension and relaxation. You become more aware of physical sensations and can consciously relax.

Other forms
Other forms of relaxation take the form of deep breathing, hypnosis, massage, meditation, yoga and tai chi. As you learn relaxation techniques, you’ll become more aware of muscle tension and other physical sensations of stress. Once you know what the stress response feels like, you can make a conscious effort to practice a relaxation technique the moment you start to feel stress symptoms. This can prevent stress from spiraling out of control.

At Woodlands Family Dental, we pride ourselves on providing you the most stress-free and relaxing environment possible. If you have any trepidation, fears or anxiety about going to the dentist, give us call and we can discuss the best options for you. After all, we believe that Happiness Starts with a Smile.

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