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Sedation may take the worry out of dental work

If the sounds of the dental office make you cringe or the thought of pain makes you queasy, sedation dentistry might be just what you are looking for.

Laurie Moffett is not a fan of trips to the dentist. 

"I don't like the noises and I don't like someone having their fingers in my mouth," she said. "I procrastinate going to the dentist more than anything."

She dislikes it so much that she has put off important dental work, including root canals. 

Laurie's not alone - in fact, 20 percent of Americans avoid going to the dentist because of fear and anxiety.  That is something Dr. Tim Robinson with Robinson Dental Group near Lake Charles, Louisiana has experienced himself. 

"I'm not a good dental patient," he said. "I'm afraid. That's why I can relate to the patient."

Whether it is the sounds or the feelings you want to avoid, sedation dentistry can take care of both. 

"It's a great procedure for those who are fearful, for those who don't get numb, if you want to complete a large amount of treatment in one or two visits, it's a great way to do it," said Dr. Robinson.

There are two ways to administer the sedation: The first is orally, the second is through an IV drip. 

"The sedative is related to the valium family, but it's a very good sedation medication, very good amnesic effect," said Dr. Robinson.

It is a conscious sedation, meaning the patient breathes on his or her own and can respond verbally to commands - but there is no memory of the experience. 

"No, I do not remember it," said Laurie. "I don't remember anything at all."

Sedation dentistry is the only dentistry Laurie uses now, helping her feel more comfortable about dental follow-ups and her time in the dental chair. 

"I don't know whose benefit it was, mine or for his," she said. "It helped us both out, because I behaved!"

Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, can also be used to take the edge off without actually sedating the patient. If you go the route of sedation dentistry, it runs about $200 to 500 and you will need someone with you for transport and monitoring at home.

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