Madison (WKOW) -- If you dread going to the dentist, you're not alone.
As much as 20% of the population is scared, too.
But dentists are now using "sedation" as a possible way to get your teeth examined.
A few years ago, Amy Benway wouldn't have willingly sat in a dentist's chair.
She said, "I was terrified. I didn't go to a dentist for a long, long time."
But after an abscessed tooth forced the issue, Amy found a dentist who could perform the procedure using IV sedation.
Benway added, "when I woke up, after he had given me the IV, the nitrous oxide, and I woke up, I thought he hadn't started yet."
Amy's sedation experience, that feeling of just shutting your eyes and waking up, is common.
But patients aren't actually asleep.
Todd Thierer, d.d.s., said, "it can put you in a state where you don't remember exactly what's going on, you're not conscious of what's going on. And so when you think back on your procedure, you may think you were asleep, but actually, you were awake."
Doctor Thierer says sedation dentistry uses a variety of medications to relax patients.
He added, "versed, which is a shorter acting version of valium. And sometimes they use a narcotic called fentanyl."
Though shorter-acting, the medicines are still powerful.
That means you can't stay "under" for too long.
Doctor Theirer added, "I would say for people who are pretty severely anxious, 90-minutes to two hours is probably the time limit."
Another thing to consider, IV is easier to control than oral meds.
"So if people are getting too deep, i can use the reversal agent and bring people out of it. Those agents, that can't be done if you give something by mouth," said Doctor Thierer
All details new sedation patients should ask about before drifting off and "opening wide."
There are many dentists who offer some form of sedation dentistry, but you need to call and ask how they sedate patients.
Also, ask the dentist how sedation emergencies are handled.
What you want to hear is that the dentist will make sure your airway is open, and your breathing and circulation are okay.