Who should use sedation dentistry?
It is no secret that some of us do not like going to the dentist. In fact, many people go years without even a check-up or cleaning. Some reasons for avoiding the dentist include:
- Fear of needles, drills, or other dental instruments
- Past traumatic dental experiences
- Sensitive teeth and/or difficulty getting numb
- Discomfort with the smells, noises, and tastes that accompany dental work
Fortunately, with current technologies these issues are no longer a reason to avoid the dentist. With sedation dentistry, patients are able to have a comfortable, anxiety-free experience while having their dental work performed.
What is sedation dentistry?
Sedation dentistry has been around for over 100 years, and has continued to evolve over the last 40 years as more options are made available to patients. In order to perform sedation, dentists are required to become accredited and complete additional training. However, its widespread acceptance and use has come about more slowly than medical sedation.
While it is common practice to be sedated by doctors for medical procedures, for some time there has been the misconception that routine dental work is not uncomfortable enough to justify the use of sedation. Fortunately, dental sedation is now used worldwide. It has proven to be a safe and effective option for a variety of patients and procedures.
Depending on the extent of the work being done and the needs of the individual patient, we offer three different methods of sedation:
- Oral Sedation (pill) - This is the lowest level of sedation we administer, usually for patients who are afraid of getting a shot, or are just anxious about having dental work done. Usually one pill is taken the night before to help the patient sleep, then another an hour prior to the dental appointment.
- Nitrous Oxide - Also known as inhalation sedation or “laughing gas,” this is one step up from the oral sedative. A mask is placed over the patient's nose, and the flow level is adjusted by the dentist until the patient is comfortable. One advantage of this method is that as soon as the dental work is complete, the patient receives 100% oxygen and the feeling of sedation is gone within a few minutes.
- Intravenous Conscious Sedation (IV) - This type of sedation is ideal for patients with extreme anxiety when it comes to dental procedures, or for those who are having complex dental work that takes a longer period of time to complete. Although the patient is conscious, he or she remembers virtually nothing about the dental work being performed.
What to Expect
With conscious sedation, most patients describe feeling as though they have “slept” through the appointment. Those who have had nitrous oxide sedation often compare it to feeling like they are “floating” or to having had a few glasses of wine. The oral sedatives have a similar effect, depending on the type of pill and dosage. All three sedation methods will allow you to communicate with your dentist during the procedure. Throughout the appointment, your doctor will closely monitor your vital signs and overall comfort level.
If you are sedated you will need someone to bring you to our office on the day of your appointment. Also, you MUST make sure you have someone to take you home afterward.
How do I know if sedation is right for me?
Talking with our dentist is the first step in deciding if sedation dentistry is for you. Whether you are afraid of needles, have trouble getting numb, or are simply anxious when it comes to dental work, you and the dentist can discuss your individual case and options.