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Many people are nervous about visiting the dentist. In fact, between 9 percent to 15 percent of Americans claim that they avoid dental appointments due to anxiety or fear. That’s somewhere between 27 to 46 million people!

So, if you’re afraid to visit the dentist, take comfort because you’re not alone. Even though most dental appointments aren’t painful, it is common for patients to be fearful of dentistry, and it’s nothing to be embarrassed about.

It’s also common to hear the phrases “dental anxiety” and “dental phobia” used as interchangeable synonyms, but these two phrases have different meanings.

Dental anxiety describes a feeling of nervousness or worry. Patients with dental anxiety experience feelings of apprehension and uneasiness. The fears associated with dental anxiety are usually exaggerated and unfounded.

Dental phobia is a more serious condition. Unfortunately, those who are afflicted with dental phobia end up suffering worse conditions, such as advanced gum disease and tooth loss. And those with dental phobia often have discolored or damaged teeth, which can affect their self-esteem to the extent that their personal and professional lives also suffer.

Both dental anxiety and dental phobia are unpleasant and uncomfortable and will adversely affect your oral health, which can ultimately affect your overall quality of life.

If you suffer from dental anxiety or phobia, sedation dentistry is a great solution for comforting and accommodating the faint of heart. With sedation dentistry, a drug is administered directly into the blood system during a dental procedure, in order to reduce the patient’s anxiety.

You may have heard the phrases “twilight dentistry” or “sleep dentistry” to describe sedation dentistry, but those phrases more accurately describe deep sedation.

During sedation dentistry, the patient remains conscious and can even understand and respond to requests from the dentist. Interestingly, the patient may not recall anything that occurred during the procedure because the sedation induces a state of deep relaxation to the point that the patient experiences a care-free feeling and isn’t bothered by the procedure. Also, the drugs used with sedation dentistry produce partial or full amnesia from the period of time that the sedation takes effect until it wears off.

Patients who undergo sedation dentistry often perceive time to pass quickly, or it seems to them that they were completely asleep (even though they weren’t). Some patients “don’t want to know” or remember what happened to them during the procedure, so many people are pleased by these amnesia effects.

Sedation dentistry is quite safe when it is performed under the direct supervision of a specially trained dentist like our very own Dr. Nicholas. If you are squeamish when it comes to the dentist’s chair, then sedation dentistry is a great solution for you. Come in and relax with us. We’re here to comfort and coddle the cowardly.

For more information about sedation dentistry, contact Dr. Anne Nicholas at the Palm Desert Center for Advanced Periodontics, Cosmetic, Sedation and Implant Dentistry. She can be reached by phone at 760-851-0314 or at her office in Palm Desert, California.