An intense fear of visiting the dentist is one of the most common phobias out there. Up to 10% of the population has a fear soooo strong they avoid the dentist altogether.
Some of us just have milder fears and anxieties when it comes to doctors and dentists – but even milder ones can sometimes cause an issue.
One thing that can help ease that ‘fear factor’ is twilight dentistry.
Twilight dentistry is an overarching term for different medical sedation and anaesthesia techniques which can greatly reduce the anxiety or discomfort associated with dental procedures.
What is it?
Twilight is a happy medium between having no sedation at all and being completely knocked out with general anaesthetic. Unlike general anaesthesia, the patient will still be conscious, meaning they can perform simple tasks to assist the dentist; things like opening and closing the mouth.
Twilight dentistry helps patients achieve a medically induced state of calm and relaxation which makes undergoing dental procedures much easier by eliminating stress and anxiety.
Sedation is different to pain relief, which is given via local anaesthetic.
How does it work?
Twilight sedation is generally performed in the dentist’s chair for minor procedures, that is ones which don’t require a full blown general anaesthetic.
There are a number of twilight dentistry options available at Timeless Smiles Dental:
You may receive a prescription for pill sedatives from your dentist prior to your procedure. You will take it the prescribed amount of time before the procedure and be in a calm, relaxed state when it is time to begin.
Nitrous oxide gas, sometimes called ‘laughing gas’ or ‘happy gas’ is often used as a sedation for dental procedures. It induces a state of calm euphoria when inhaled and relieves anxiety, allowing you to undergo dental procedures in a calm but awake state.
3. Intravenous (IV)
IV sedation is the quickest method, taking effect in a matter of minutes. It involves a mild dose of anaesthesia, lower than what you would have for general anaesthetic, by our medical anaesthetist.
It sends you into a dreamlike state during which you can still follow instructions but are unlikely to remember anything afterwards.
Once you are sedated, your dentist will inject local anaesthetic and complete the procedure. It may only take 15-30 minutes or up to a few hours for complex or multiple procedures. You will ‘wake up’ after the procedure with little or no memory of it taking place and feeling as though you’ve taken a short nap.
When is twilight dentistry used?
Most dental procedures such as fillings, cleanings, root canal, crowns, extractions or dental implants can all be done under twilight dentistry.
Local anaesthetic is used in these dental procedures, so the patient won’t feel any pain, and twilight sedation will ease anxiety and reduce the discomfort associated with lengthy procedures.
There are many benefits to having sedation if any of the following apply to you:
- If you have a low pain threshold
- If you are anxious
- If you are having several procedures done at once
- If you have a sensitive gag reflex
- If you are afraid of needles
- If you have a small mouth or find procedures uncomfortable
- If you have a fear of dentistry
Are there any associated risks?
It is important to follow all instructions from us before and after the procedure. This might include things like not eating or drinking for designated periods before your procedure.
We will take your medical history and ask about heart conditions or anything else which may pose a risk under sedation.
We will monitor heart rate, oxygen levels and breathing throughout the procedure and make sure you are safe and healthy throughout.
Although you’ll be able to walk and talk normally shortly after coming out of sedation, it is wise to get someone to pick you up and take you home as you may still feel a bit sleepy or disoriented.
How does it compare to general anaesthesia?
General anaesthetic renders patients completely unconscious, unresponsive and unable to follow instructions. It is typically used only for major procedures and requires hospitalisation. A general anaesthetic takes hours to wear off and leaves you groggy for a long while afterwards.
With twilight sedation you are still semi-conscious and able to take instruction, you will have a quicker recovery and won’t require hospitalisation.
What is the recovery like?
Depending on the level of sedation you should be aware and able to walk and talk normally shortly after your procedure, but it is still recommended you have someone take you home.
Twilight dentistry can eliminate the stress and anxiety for a lot of people associate with visits to the dentist.
If you’ve been putting off coming to see us, perhaps it’s time to discuss the various twilight dentistry options, so we can give your teeth the care and attention they deserve.
I promise you will barely remember a thing.
If you have any questions about Twilight Dentistry then please don’t hesitate to talk to us at your next Timeless Smiles appointment.
And if you know someone with a fear of dentists, do them a favour and share this email.