In our previous post, we talked about root canals, what the procedure involves, and how misinformation is behind the majority of the unease people have about getting them. We also talked about how sedation dentistry can help you overcome your fear of root canals (or any dental procedure) to help you get the care you need when you need it, instead of waiting for it to advance to the point where the problem is too painful to ignore.
Sedation dentistry (sometimes called relaxation dentistry) is a way for people suffering with dental anxiety to become more at ease in the dental office. If you think you might have dental anxiety, your fear may be intense, but the consequences of not getting the treatment you need (such as a root canal) are much, much worse. We offer several sedation dentistry solutions at Really Smile, a provider of advanced dentistry in Carmel, IN.
Avoid a Root Canal, End Up With an Extraction
Root canals remove dangerous infections from the interior of your tooth. Not only does the infection threaten the tooth, your oral tissues (such as your gums) and even the bone in your jaw, it can create a painful abscess, a pus-filled sack on your gums that is very painful. The abscess also serves as a “launching pad” for the bacteria to enter the rest of your body, where the infection (if untreated or not caught in time) can be deadly.
Because the stakes are so high (your life), avoiding a root canal means that eventually the tooth will need to be extracted; at that point, the tooth is very decayed and compromised, and the infection needs to be removed immediately so that the bacteria won’t spread elsewhere. This means the tooth will need to be extracted.
Despite what you might have heard, a tooth extraction is not a small undertaking and it is not a good substitution for a root canal (which is the solution advocated by those who perpetuate the false notion that root canals cause cancer and other serious disease) it is a surgical procedure that most reputable dentists will not attempt until there is nothing else to do.
A tooth extraction is very physically traumatic (even with anesthetic), requires a lengthy recovery that is just as inconvenient as it is uncomfortable. Because a tooth extraction is a surgical procedure that leaves large open wounds inside your mouth, the chance of serious infection is greatly increased.
Furthermore, you can’t just “live with” a missing tooth; it will need to be replaced, and this can be very expensive. For example, dental implants are very effective, but they are also very costly, and even more conventional solutions (like dentures and bridges) can be expensive. The procedures required to install these reparative devices often require multiple appointments and long recovery times. A root canal on the other hand will be able to stop the infection, leave your natural tooth in place, and protect you, your time, and your pocketbook, all in two easy appointments (one for the root canal itself, and the placement of the dental crown you will need).
I’m Still Afraid of Root Canals! What Can I Do?
First, you should know that a root canal today is much different from those of years past (that may have informed some of the negative rumors surrounding the procedure); in fact, with modern technology and techniques, a root canal is no more uncomfortable than a cavity filling.
The majority of patients who undergo root canal therapy are often surprised at just how much of a non-event the treatment actually is, when compared to all the fuss that usually precedes it. However, if you still have misgivings about getting a root canal (but you also know you don’t want to lose your teeth), we can help with sedation dentistry techniques.
What is Sedation Dentistry?
Sedation dentistry, sometimes referred to as relaxation dentistry, are safe, controlled sedative delivery methods your dentist can use to help you relax in the chair and get the treatment you need. This isn’t limited to root canals; sedation dentistry can be used for any procedure in our office. The purpose of sedation dentistry is primarily to assist the millions of Americans (about 60% of the population) who report the symptoms of a condition known as dental anxiety. Sedation dentistry is also useful if you have trouble with getting “numb” from local anesthetics, or if you have many procedures that for logistical reasons must be performed in as few appointments as possible.
Sedation Dentistry at Really Smile
We offer four types of sedation dentistry in our practice. Depending on your specific needs (you and your dentist will discuss your needs), you may or may not need a more powerful sedation treatment. All of these sedation methods are very safe.
This is the form of sedation that you might be most familiar with. Inhalation sedation is the use of nitrous oxide gas (NO2). You have also probably heard it called “laughing gas”. Your dentist will administer the gas through a special “mask” that fits over your nose (you will still be able to breathe normally through your mouth and speak). The gas is mixed with oxygen and your dentist is trained to control the flow of gas for your comfort.
Nitrous Oxide will not “conk you out”; the idea is to help you achieve a deep and profound sense of relaxation while still being able to communicate with your dentist. There is a possibility of falling asleep, however.
Oral sedation is a sedative in pill form; your dentist will give you a prescription to fill, and you will take the sedative about an hour before your appointment. Depending on your specific health profile,the possibility exists that one dose of sedative might not be enough to help you relax. Your dentist will provide you with additional sedative. However, this may result in your appointment being re-scheduled due to the logistical constraints that oral sedation may sometimes present.
Through a partnership with a trained anesthesiologist, we are able to offer our patients general anesthesia. General anesthesia is designed to make you become unconscious, and is only appropriate for patients undergoing oral surgery, or for those patients with very severe dental anxiety (or dental phobia, a condition which affects 5% to 8% of the population).
NuCalm Relaxation Dentistry
For patients with dental anxiety who may not tolerate sedatives or anesthetics well, or for patients whose dental anxiety doesn’t require sedation (but you still need to relax), we offer a unique solution: NuCalm Relaxation Dentistry.
NuCalm is a remarkable and recent development in the field of sedation/relaxation dentistry. Instead of sedatives, NuCalm uses a combination of specially formulated nutritional supplements, sound, very mild and painless electric stimulation of the nerves, and sensory depravation (with the use of light-blocking wrap around glasses). NuCalm works by causing your brain to produce Alpha brainwaves, which are normally produced during the first phase of sleep (the feeling of relaxation you have right before you nod off). However, instead of falling asleep, NuCalm allows for alpha brainwaves to continue without moving to the next sleep phase.
You will still be awake, but you will be extremely relaxed and calm. Many patients even enjoy the experience, and our patients have also reported that the sense of calm and relaxation can last for multiple days following the procedure!
Don’t Be Afraid of a Root Canal (Or Any Other Procedure)
If your teeth have been damaged, or if you have a persistent toothache, you need to see the dentist immediately to address that problem (and any others that might have arisen as a result).
If you need a root canal, there is no reason to avoid getting one, and now with sedation and relaxation dentistry from Really Smile, you can get the care you need without the panic and the fear.
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