Many patients are afraid of dental treatment.  There are several different methods available to help people cope with their fear and anxiety.  This section lists the most common methods for helping patients with their anxiety and allowing them to have dental treatment in the most comfortable way.

Local Anaesthesia (injection in the gum)

This is the simplest way to control dental discomfort and pain.  Anaesthetic cream can be placed onto the gum to make the injection more comfortable.  Then, a small injection is placed in the gum.  This temporarily anaesthetises or numbs the area allowing painless dental treatment to be carried out.

The numbness can last up to 4 hours and care should be taken not to damage the numb area (e.g. by biting it) during this time.

Inhalation sedation

This involves breathing a mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen.  It is commonly used for women when giving birth.  It is also extremely useful in the treatment of anxious children.

Intravenous sedation

A sedative medicine is injected into a vein in the patient’s hand or arm.  This makes patients feel relaxed and drowsy, minimising anxiety.  Many patients remember little about the treatment they receive whilst sedated in this way.  Patients are awake and can talk to the dental staff at all times.  In addition to the sedation, local anaesthetic is used as required.  This method works well for all types of anxiety and patients who have difficulty with muscle spasms or muscle relaxation.  This method is usually used for adult patients.  Sedation is provided by a doctor or dentist specialising in anaesthesia.

General anaesthesia

This is used in a hospital environment for more complicated procedures and is not used in dental practice.