Dental anxiety is a common concern that affects many people. To help put patients at ease during their appointments or throughout extensive procedures, Drs. Jeffrey Hennigan and Nathan Bray provide sedation dentistry options at their Lake Charles, LA, practice. If you are anxious about an upcoming visit to the dentist, we can provide nitrous oxide or oral sedation to help you relax and allow you to get the treatment that you need. 

About Sedation Dentistry

A patient with a nitrous oxide mask on

Sedation dentistry is a technique that uses medication to help patients relax and minimize any discomfort during their appointments. The precise effects will depend on the level of sedation administered. With mild sedative options, patients remain awake and alert, but are much more relaxed than they normally would be. Moderate levels of sedation allow patients to relax even further by producing a twilight sleep. In this state, patients can still respond to questions from the doctor but will have little memory of the procedure. 

Sedation and Dental Anxiety

While sedation techniques are frequently employed to minimize pain and discomfort, easing dental anxiety is the most common reason for providing these options. If you are nervous about the dentist, you are not alone; up to 50 million Americans suffer from dental anxiety. It can manifest in a variety of ways, and some patients will avoid seeing their dentist for extended periods of time. However, delaying appointments can undermine your oral health. Periodontal disease and many other oral health conditions have no obvious symptoms until later stages, at which point more extensive treatments are required.

If you are nervous about the dentist, you are not alone: up to 50 million Americans suffer from dental anxiety.

Our practice provides dental sedation as one of many options to ease a patient’s anxiety so that it does not interfere with their oral health. It is particularly helpful for patients who:

  • Have a low pain threshold
  • Have sensitive teeth
  • Have a sensitive gag reflex
  • Have trouble sitting still for long periods (because of medical conditions or otherwise)
  • Require extensive dental work
  • Are uncomfortable with a stranger’s closeness

However, sedation is not the only available option. Simply asking your dentist to thoroughly explain your treatment can make a difference in helping you prepare. You can also agree on hand signals to let your doctor know when you need a break.

Types of Sedation Available

At Lake Area Dentistry, we offer two types of sedation:

  • Nitrous Oxide: Also known as laughing gas, nitrous oxide is one of the mildest forms of sedation available. Administered through a nose mask, the effects of nitrous oxide can be felt immediately and diminish quickly. Consequently, it is also the only form of sedation that does not require a family member or friend to drive the patient home afterward. Because it is so light, it is often recommended for children who are especially nervous or uncooperative at the dentist’s office. 
  • Oral Sedation: The effects of oral sedation can range from mild to moderate, depending on the dosage. With a single pill, patients usually feel drowsy but remain awake. Larger doses are more common, though, and typically leave patients in a twilight sleep state.

Other Considerations

It is important to keep in mind that there is always some risk when using sedation. In particular, patients who are overweight or suffering from obstructive sleep apnea are more likely to develop complications from sedation. Consequently, if you are considering sedation, it is important to discuss your medical history with your dentist beforehand.

Contact Us Today

At Lake Area Dentistry, we strive to help patients enjoy a lifetime of healthy and beautiful smiles. If you suffer from anxiety or fear when visiting the dentist, reach out today to schedule an appointment and discuss our options for dental sedation.