How Can Conscious Sedation Help with Dental Fear?

Conscious sedation dentistry can help the millions of Americans who suffer from dental anxiety or overwhelming fear of going to the dentist. Just as others suffer from fear of heights, crowds, or open spaces, phobic dental patients' fear is very real. What often results is a long-term avoidance of dental visits, even for basic cleanings, which can lead to more serious dental and health problems or severe mouth pain later in life. This is where conscious sedation dentistry can help.

"Sometimes we see patients who have not visited a dentist in more than 25 years," says Dr. David Penwell, a sedation dentist with First Choice Dental in Verona, Wisconsin, "but now, they are forced to come, because of severe pain or dental problems they can no longer ignore."

How Can Conscious Sedation Dentistry Help?
Through sedation dentistry, sedation dentists like Penwell, who have received sub-specialty training in this area, are able to offer patients conscious sedation dentistry for their appointments. Penwell explains, "In conscious sedation dentistry, we use medication in pill form to relax the patient. No inhalation sedation (laughing gas) or intravenous needles are used." Patients are given a dose of oral medication the night before their appointment, and then oral medication throughout the appointment as well - generally crushed, and placed under their tongue for rapid and easy absorption. During the procedure patients are able to walk, talk, and follow directions from their sedation dentist, but are more relaxed and don't generally remember much of the appointment.

For patients with great fear or anxiety, this conscious sedation dentistry option helps them through their appointment, and allows them to receive a great deal of dental work (sometimes years' worth) in a safe and effective manner.

Signs of Dental Fear or Anxiety
Not all people even recognize their dental fear. If you display any of the following symptoms, you may want to consider conscious sedation dentistry or working with a dentist to address your concerns:

  1. Do you regularly cancel dentist appointments due to apprehension or other excuses?
  2. Have you put off dental treatment for a long time and are overdue for significant dental care?
  3. Have you had traumatic dental experiences as a child or in the past?
  4. Have you ever been told that you aren't "yourself" before or during a dental visit, due to stress or anxiety?
  5. Do you ignore mouth pain or other issues with your teeth or gums?

Penwell explains that overcoming a dental phobia can be life-changing. He says "I have sedation dental patients who tell me they can now look at someone when they are speaking to them; that they no longer cover their mouths when they smile or laugh, or even men who are clean shaven after years of growing a beard or mustache to hide their mouths."

It is important for people to maintain their resolve to take care of their health and their bodies - including their mouths and their dental health. If you suffer from dental anxiety or fear, and would like to consider conscious sedation dentistry, Penwell notes that it is important to find a dentist who not only respects your fear and who will work to earn your trust and respect, but who also has completed the appropriate training and credentialing. For more information, visit