How Sedation Dentistry Helps Millions Visit the Dentist
Skipping your biannual dental exams is hazardous for your health. Here’s how sedation dentistry can help.
Does the thought of a trip to the dentist’s chair make your toes curl?
Believe it or not, you’re not alone. A reported 9 to 20 percent of Americans avoid going to the dentist each year due to anxiety and discomfort. Dental phobia varies in severity among individuals.
For some people, a trip to the dentist can feel like the equivalent of getting dunked in a tank of sharks.
Still, skipping biannual dentist exams can be harmful to your long-term health. If you have a fear of the dentist’s office, how can you still make sure your teeth are happy and healthy?
That’s where sedation dentistry comes in. Sedation dentistry can help even the most fear-stricken of patients relax and make it through even the most thorough of dental exams. Read on for more.
What Is Sedation Dentistry?
It’s all in the name.
Put simply, sedation dentistry is the use of medical sedatives during dental procedures. Sedatives can help a patient to relax and ease the fear and anxiety they would normally experience.
The amount of sedative a patient receives can vary on their needs. In most cases, patients remain sedated but awake for the procedure. Very rarely are they given so much sedative that they are fully put to sleep.
Minimal, moderate, and deep sedation are all used to help patients during dental exams, procedures, and surgeries.
Minimal sedation simply helps an individual relax. Moderate sedation is more akin to being drunk, with memory and speech both slightly blurred. Deep sedation leaves the individual on the edge of sleep, responsive but incredibly foggy.
Forms of Sedation
Dentists use multiple types of sedation, depending on the individual and the procedure in question.
The most common form of sedation is laughing gas. You’re likely familiar with laughing gas and may have even been administered it at some point. Laughing gas, known more officially as nitrous oxide, helps to reduce anxiety and relax the body.
It creates minimal sedation that is comfortable and very safe. Laughing gas can be injected painlessly through a needle or breathed in through a machine and mask.
Laughing gas wears off quickly. This means that despite the use of anesthesia, you’ll still be able to drive yourself home following your appointment.
This form of sedation is taking orally in pill or tablet form. This kind of sedation can vary in severity depending on the dose given.
Halcion is a standard enteral sedation drug, usually taken about an hour before a procedure. It’s a cousin of valium and can make an individual feel groggy and drowsy going into the dentist chair.
In some cases, enteral sedation may be used in combination with nitrous oxide.
Intravenous (IV) Sedation relies on the direct injection of sedative to the blood. In this case, an IV would be connected directly to a patient’s vein.
This has a number of benefits. Direct contact with the bloodline allows the sedative to take effect much quicker than oral intake. Direct bloodline connection also allows a dentist to monitor and adjust the amount of sedative during the procedure.
In many cases, dentists use IV sedation in cases where deeper sedation is desired. Following these instances of deeper sedation, most patients will need to be picked up and driven home by a third party.
Though rare, there are instances in where a patient wants or needs to be completely knocked out. In these cases, dentists use general anesthesia.
General anesthesia puts a patient completely to sleep and makes it incredibly difficult for them to be woken up. It’s injected directly into the veins. It also requires a thorough and lengthy recovery time in the office following its use.
Is Sedation Dentistry Safe?
Many people are nervous around the idea of anesthesia and want to ensure that it is safe to use. There are some small risks associated with anesthesia use, but they depend on a patient’s medical history.
Patients with a history of medical issues, obesity, sleep apnea, or other ailments might aggravate such problems with anesthesia use. That’s why it’s incredibly important to make sure your dentist is trained and qualified to practice sedation dentistry.
Ask your doctor how much experience they have with sedative procedures. Make sure they go over your medical history with you and are aware of any potential problems. Never, ever accept sedatives from someone who is not qualified to prescribe them.
If you receive sedatives from a trained and qualified medical professional, there is an incredibly low amount of risk.
Who Can Receive Sedation Assistance?
Anyone with real fear and anxiety regarding dental treatment should be eligible for sedative assistance. Limitations and exceptions are few and far between.
A doctor will look through your medical history and ensure there are no risks related to sedative use. In some cases, a dentist will ask you to get a clearance from your physician before administering. Some individuals are denied sedative assistance due to health risks associated with sedative use.
These instances are rare, however, and most people who require sedative assistance during dental procedures are permitted to obtain it.
Overcome Your Fears Today
Anxiety surrounding the dentist’s office is totally normal and more common than you might think. But such fear must not prevent proper care and concern for your teeth. Sedation dentistry can help even the most fear-prone of patients get through a procedure with little stress.
Interested in learning more about sedative procedures? Contact us today.