For the past 12 years I have struggled with keeping dental appointments. I cancelled often and when I did make the appointments I often cut them short because I felt like the room was closing in on me. More recently it has been 5 years since I’ve had a dental appointment. I have scheduled several times because I know I have cavities that need attention but I can’t do it. I get sweaty and anxious after I schedule the appointment and the anxiety continues to grow until the day of. I literally get sick to my stomach, vomiting and the whole nine yards so I have to cancel the appointment. My sister offers to come with me into the exam room but that is no consolation. I am certain that all of this stems from 2 bad childhood experiences of excruciating pain and the hearing sound of drilling. Both times my mouth was swollen and sore and I could only eat popsicles for a few days because of the soreness. I received a postcard in the mail last week from a new dental practice in the neighborhood. In the list of services that the dentist offers, sedation dentistry was listed. I’ve seen this advertised before but now I am thinking that this might be just what I need. What can you tell me about this treatment? Is it safe? I thought it would be best to get information from you rather than looking on yahoo answers or ask jeeves. I want a reliable reply. Thank you – Jenn D from Dover, Ohio

Jenn – Dental anxiety or dental phobia is common among millions of Americans. You received a postcard advertising sedation dentistry and you will be able to find other understanding dentists who practice it.

Sedation dentistry is a safe means of relaxing while you receive dental treatment. The method that you receive depends on your level of anxiety and your medical history.

Two common methods of sedation dentistry are nitrous oxide and oral conscious sedation. Nitrous oxide is an odorless, colorless gas that will relax you. After you receive nitrous oxide, you will be alert to what is happening around you and you will be able to respond it, but you will be relaxed. You will wear a mask to breathe in the nitrous oxide through a small tube. Nitrous oxide has few, if any side effects. After your dental procedure, you will breathe in oxygen to clear the nitrous oxide from your head.

Oral conscious sedation is delivered in pill form. You will receive a small amount of medication that is commonly used to reduce anxiety. You will still be anxious, but completely relaxed. Your vital signs will be monitored during your dental treatment. You will still be drowsy after your dental treatment.

Sedation dentistry, or sleep dentistry as it is sometimes called, can help you maintain good oral health by relaxing you during your dental treatment.

Many dentists who practice sedation dentistry offer a complimentary consultation. You will be able to meet the dentist and ask questions about the techniques that he or she uses to help you relax for your appointment.

This blog post is sponsored by Carmel dentist Dr. Julia Shalit of Pure Zen Dentistry.