I am having all my teeth removed to get dentures. This happened because I am so afraid of needles and the dentist in general that I never took care of my teeth. I always found some reason to cancel the appointment until last year when I ended up in so much pain I couldn’t avoid going. It turns out most of my teeth are so far gone they cannot be saved. So, now I need dentures ( at 34 years old), but I’m too afraid to go in to have the work done. It is getting hard to eat. Is there some way I can go to the hospital and get knocked out for the procedure? That is the only solution I can come up with.
Amanda C.- New Mexico
I am so sorry for the mess you have to deal with. Losing your teeth at 34 is a difficult scenario to face. I hope your dentist told you the consequences of getting dentures so young. Did he or she mention facial collapse to you? Your body begins re-absorbing the minerals from your jawbone once your teeth are extracted. In about ten to twenty years, you won’t have enough jawbone left to support your dentures. This is very serious, given your age. By the time you hit your fifties, you will be a dental cripple. Your dentures won’t fit anymore and you won’t be able to find a pair that will. You think it is hard to eat now, wait until you can’t even wear dentures. This is a dangerous health issue, so I sincerly hope your dentist walked you through all of it.
You are not stuck with dentures. Dental Implants are not only a better tooth replacement than dentures, but they will protect you from facial collapse. Because you get a titanium implant to take the place of your tooth root, your body will retain all the minerals needed for your jawbone, so you won’t have to deal with any bone loss as a result of losing your teeth. Additionally, when you get dentures, you’ll chewing capacity declines by at least 50%. However, with dental implants, you will be able to eat as well as you did when your natural teeth were perfectly healthy.
Now, I’ll stop with the dire warnings and answer your question. Yes, you can go to a hospital to be put under general anesthesia. It is a very expensive way of dealing with your dental anxiety. Let me give you the pros and cons of general anesthesia as well as two other sedation dentistry options you may not be aware of yet.
This is your most expensive option, but there are dentists and hospitals that will allow you to be put under for your teeth extractions. With this option you will be “put under”. That means you will be completely unconscious, which also means you’ll have no muscle control or reflexes. You’ll have tubes placed in your airway, without which you won’t be able to breath. You will not be able to respond to questions if they need to ask anything during the procedure. After the procedure you will be very drowsy and will need someone else to bring you home, as well as keep an eye on you for several hours at home.
On the other end of the spectrum is Oral Sedation. This is your least expensive option. Be assured that it is PAIN FREE. Not only that, but you will have no recollection of the dental procedure. Your dentist will give you a pill to take at a set time before your extraction appointment. You will be sedated, but still technically awake. You will be sleepy, but will still maintain control over all your defensive reflexes. You’ll also be able to answer questions, but there is no guarantee as to how intelligent your answers will be.
My personal opinion (and it is just that-an opinion) is that this is your best option. The cost will be between that of anesthesia and oral sedation. You’ll use a sedation dentist for this procedure who will be trained and certified to safely administer this type of sedation. Now, I know you are afraid of needles, so the idea of an IV needle probably terrifies you. This is where you’ll actually have an advantage over hospitalized general anesthesia. Your dentist can give you some nitrous oxide before doing the IV sedation, which will relax you and make the IV needle MUCH easier to deal with. With this option, you will be concious and can answer questions, but you will feel no pain. You will be sleepy, but you’ll also be relaxed and calm. The recovery time is much quicker than the other two options. Plus the dosages can be regulated so they can increase any medication even during the procedure. This also has an added benefit of suppressing any gag reflex you may have. This will make the extractions go by much more quickly.
I hope this helps alleviate your fears.
This blog is brought to you by Seattle Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Brian McKay.
Or, if have questions you would like to ask us about sedation dentistry, give us a call at 206-720-0600.