Being a little anxious or even afraid of visiting the dentist is incredibly common in Australia. Some studies have estimated that one in seven Australians are affected by dental fear to some degree. You might know that your fears are irrational, and it's certainly not your dentist's fault—they're doing their utmost to help you preserve your teeth. But you may not be able to get over your anxiety about sitting in the dental chair with a bright light shining in your face and your mouth wide open. In fact, it might even be preventing you from attending your regular checkups. Have you considered the potential benefits of light sedation prior to a dental examination?

Regular Checkups

Those regular checkups are essential, allowing your dentist to catch many developing issues before they've had a chance to become especially serious. Failure to attend dental examinations can mean that you may be making things more complicated for yourself further down the road. Light sedation can rapidly ease your anxiety, allowing your dentist to perform the necessary checks without worrying you in the slightest.

A Conversation With Your Dentist

Light sedation doesn't mean that your dentist must administer an injection, or even give you an inhalant such as nitrous oxide (known as laughing gas). The ways in which these sedatives are dosed can inadvertently create additional anxiety. All you need to do is have a conversation with your dentist to explain the extent of your concerns. If you're a suitable candidate, your dentist can then issue you a prescription for a light sedative which you'll then take (orally) prior to your next appointment.

Calmative Effects

The sedative is likely to be a low-strength benzodiazepine-based pill. You'll take it at the recommended time before your dental appointment, and by the time the appointment begins, the medication's calmative effects will be felt. You won't be fully sedated (asleep), and you will be aware of your surroundings and able to respond to your dentist's instructions and questions. The medication will simply alleviate your stress and anxiety for the duration of your dental examination.

Basic Precautions

Because the medication is intended to have a sedative effect (however minor it might be), you'll need to take some basic precautions. For example, you're likely to need someone to drive you to and from your appointment, and you'll also need to follow any additional safety instructions specific to the prescribed medication. 

This type of medication can be invaluable in allowing someone with dental anxiety to still receive the highest possible standard of care without letting that anxiety get in the way.