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Sedation Dentistry for Anxious Patients

Sedation dentistry

Dental anxiety is a common condition that affects up to 22% of the population in the US. Dental phobia and anxiety prevent some patients from getting the dental treatment they need, increasing their risk of serious oral health issues.

What Causes Dental Anxiety?

The most common cause of dental anxiety is fear of treatment-associated pain, even with a local anesthetic. There are several other reasons why some people are afraid to visit the dentist, including:

  • Sensory processing disorder: The vibrations and noise from the dental handpiece or increased tooth sensitivity after treatment can trigger anxiety in some individuals with SPD.
  • Fear of needles: Receiving injections of anesthetic in their mouths can cause patients to become anxious. They may also be afraid the anesthesia will not take effect, and the procedure will be painful.
  • Concerns over feeling out of control: Leaning back in a dentist’s chair can make some individuals feel vulnerable. This is often due to prior bad dental experience.

Mild anxiety can often be alleviated by discussing the treatment with your dentist or having your dentist explain each step of the procedure to you while it is happening. However, for severe anxiety, or dental phobias, often the best solution is sedation.

How Can Sedation Dentistry Help Anxious Patients?

At Caputo Dental, we offer several sedation options to help anxious patients relax and get the treatment they need. Some sedatives put you into a deep state of relaxation, so you may have little or no memory of the dental procedure.


Inhalation sedation is a combination of oxygen and nitrous oxide administered through a facemask. There are no needles or heavy sedatives involved. The gas works rapidly, taking effect within 2-3 minutes. Once the facemask is removed, the gas wears off after several deep breaths.

You remain conscious throughout the procedure, allowing you to respond to your dentist, but you are in a relaxed state.

Oral sedative

Benzodiazepines are a medication that reduces the activity levels in the areas of the brain responsible for controlling fear and anxiety. These FDA-approved pills must be taken one hour before your treatment. You will feel drowsy but can still respond to your dentist’s instructions.

If you choose an oral sedative, you will be unable to drive to and from your appointment.

IV sedation

In some cases, your dentist may suggest IV sedation. IV sedative uses an intravenous drip to deliver a combination of pain-blocking and sedative medications directly to your bloodstream, so it is fast-acting.

At Caputo Dental, IV sedation is administered by a board certified anesthesiologist. Your vitals are monitored during the procedure and recovery period by an ICU/ER nurse.

This type of sedation is suitable for patients with a sensitive gag reflex or individuals who need extensive or invasive dental treatment. Multiple procedures can be performed while under IV sedation, so you spend less time in the dental chair overall.

It may take several hours for the sedative to wear off, so ensure you have someone to drive you home.

Partner With Caputo Dental to Relieve Dental Anxiety

If you suffer from dental anxiety, schedule an initial consultation with Caputo Dental to discuss your sedation options. Depending on your medical history, allergies, type of procedure, and anxiety level, Dr. Caputo can recommend the right sedation technique to ensure you are comfortable and get the dental treatment you need for your oral health.

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