PA Department of Health Ruling Regarding Dental Appointments


When you think of phobias, what do you think of?

Acrophobia? The fear of heights?

Arachnophobia? The fear of spiders?

Ophidiophobia? The fear of snakes?

Mysophobia? The fear of germs?

Fear comes in many forms. For most Americans, one of those fears is the dentist, dentophobia. Whether it’s sitting in a reclined chair for what feels like hours, the sounds of the instruments used, the discomfort of some treatments. It leads people to put off visits that should be taken care early until they become much more serious problems.

Depending on the level of sedation the patient needs, there are various options for sedation. The most common are oral sedation, inhaled sedation such as nitrous oxide (laughing gas), IV sedation, and even general anesthesia.

They each have their benefits for specific situations, and for the uncomfortable patient, they can provide all sorts of benefits you might not have considered.

Pain Relief

Pain, arguably the number one reason people don’t like going to the dentist. No one likes tooth or gum pain. With sedation dentistry, the pain is completely removed. The brain is unable to register pain while under the influence of sedatives and anesthetics. Who wants to experience oral pain? We don’t. It’s one of the many reasons why sedation dentistry could be for you!

Anxiety Relief

One of the most positive aspects of sedation dentistry is the relief of anxiety for the more nervous type. This allows the patient to comfortably go through their procedure, and removes a big reason people avoid the dentist. Anxiety manifests on a spectrum.

While some patients have just a little pre-procedure anxiety, some patients become completely overwhelmed with the fear that an oral procedure will be excruciating or possibly even go horribly wrong. This prevents many people from receiving care that they need.

Gag Reflex Suppression

A gag reflex is a good thing. The throat needs to be able to expel any intrusive, foreign object. However, if a patient is completely aware while a dentist is working in his mouth, the gag reflex can be a hindrance. Sometimes the dentist needs to go deep inside the oral cavity, and the gag reflex prevents that.

The patient’s spasms can lead to damage, depending on what the dentist is doing. With sedation dentistry, this is no longer an issue as the gag reflex is paralyzed. This means the dentist can work faster and more efficiently, and the patient will be much more comfortable.

The Dentist Can Work Faster

If a patient is under the influence of powerful sedatives and anesthetics, he or she won’t be squirming around in the chair while the dentist is trying to work.

The dentist will be able to work faster and more efficiently, because he or she doesn’t have to worry about your reaction to the procedure. This means he or she will be able to get you out of the chair and on the road to recovery that much quicker.

Anterograde Amnesia

While in many situations amnesia might not be the most desirable outcome, in sedation dentistry it is very desirable. The dentophobia many people have generally stems from an unpleasant experience, and the fear generally grows with each additional visit.

This is especially true if the patient experiences any discomfort. However, with sedation dentistry, there can be no additional build-up of a phobia, because the mind can’t create any new memories. This can even help reduce the fear that the patient will have on the following visits.

So if you have been putting off having some much-needed dental work because you’re a little nervous, you are likely a good candidate for sedation dentistry. If you are unsure, schedule an appointment with us at Three Rivers Dental at any of our 4 locations to see how we can help.