Overcoming Your Dental Fears with Sedation Dentistry

Man Covering Mouth

Maybe your stomach churns as you drive to your dental appointment, or an unstoppable fear takes hold at the sound of a dental drill. Some of our patients have such potent fear that they won’t even schedule a checkup; forget about getting work done.Dental fears cover a wide range, from moderate but controllable fear on one end, to intense anxiety in the middle, and extreme phobia on the far end. No matter where your dental fears fall on the spectrum, you’re not alone. It’s estimated that 9-15% of Americans avoid the dentist due to fear and anxiety.

For more than two decades, Dr. Rebecca Castaneda at Aesthetika Dental Center has worked closely with countless patients who struggle with dental fear. She also received specialized training, learning diverse ways to help patients with dental phobia. She truly understands how hard it is for you to come in for dental care and is prepared to help you overcome your fear.

Reasons for dental fear and anxiety

You probably aren’t surprised to learn that pain is the top reason for dental fear. Worrying about pain could come from your own experience or from stories told by friends and family who had a bad time in the dental chair. It doesn’t matter how your fear of pain developed. At Aesthetika Dental Center, we never take it lightly.

Beyond anticipating pain during your dental care, fear of needles is another common reason our patients develop anxiety over dental care. Other reasons that are high on the list include:

  • The sounds of dental instruments
  • The odors experienced
  • Discomfort with another person being so close to your face and invading your mouth
  • Hypersensitivity to touch

Overcoming your fear

The first step is to let us know about your anxiety. Just call. Talk with us about your concerns and together we’ll come up with a stepwise plan to conquer your fear so that you can get the dental care you need for healthy teeth and a beautiful smile.

We use a variety of techniques to help with dental anxiety and phobia, such as biofeedback and desensitization. But sedation dentistry is an exceptional way to overcome many dental issues, as it can:

  • Eliminate pain
  • Overcome stress, anxiety, and fear
  • Diminish fear of dental instruments
  • Overcome hypersensitivity to smells, noises, and tastes
  • Support patients with a severe gag reflex

Your treatment is customized using the type of sedation that’s best for your level of anxiety and the dental procedure you need. Here’s a rundown of the types of sedation available.

Nitrous oxide (laughing gas)

Nitrous oxide is an anesthetic gas that you inhale through a mask. When you have nitrous oxide, you stay awake, but it effectively reduces anxiety and relieves pain. It tends to give you the sense that you’re removed from the activity taking place in your mouth.

The gas dissolves in your bloodstream and reaches your brain within seconds; then it also leaves your body quickly when your treatment is over. Nitrous oxide combined with a local anesthetic does an excellent job of eliminating fear and pain, so it may be enough to overcome mild to moderate fear and anxiety.

Oral sedation (conscious sedation)

Conscious sedation is administered with a pill or fluid. The medications used make you feel drowsy, significantly diminish anxiety, and alleviate pain. We can give this type of sedation in different doses to produce a:

  • Minimal effect that treats anxiety and helps you relax
  • Moderate effect that relaxes you enough to make you sleepy
  • Deep effect that’s likely to make you sleep

If you fall asleep, you’re easy to wake because you’re not under general anesthesia.

Intravenous (IV) sedation (twilight sleep)

IV sedation administers medication directly into a vein. It allows you to undergo deeper sedation, yet it doesn’t make you sleep, and you continue to breathe on your own. When you choose IV sedation, you won’t be fully aware of your dental procedure, yet you may be able to respond to questions.

IV sedation is often a good choice for those who are highly anxious because it takes effect quickly and you don’t fully recall the details about the procedure. We can also provide further pain relief by giving you a local anesthetic, but you get the anesthetic after your IV sedation takes effect.

General anesthesia

This is the same type of IV anesthesia you’d receive for a surgical procedure. You go into a deep sleep from which you can’t be roused until we stop administering the medication. When you undergo general anesthesia, you’re in the care of a certified anesthesiologist who constantly monitors your heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing.

Don’t let fear, anxiety, or full-blown dental phobia stop you from getting dental care. Call Aesthetika Dental Center or schedule a consultation to learn more about how we can help you overcome the challenges you face.


450 Sutter Street, Suite #1616
San Francisco, CA 94108


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