While unfortunate to note, many people with dental problems are often afraid to visit their dentists and get proper treatment. Fortunately, this is where sedation dentistry can come in handy. Essentially, sedation dentistry is the process where the dentist uses drugs or medication to keep patients relaxed during a dental procedure.
The Lowdown on Sedation Dentistry
Generally, sedation dentistry is considered safe for most patients. Various techniques are used in sedation dentistry including the following:
- Minimal sedation. Patient is fully relaxed, awake, and cannot feel any discomfort or pain.
- Moderate sedation. Patient is slightly unconscious and won’t be able to remember much of what transpired during the dental treatment.
- Deep sedation. Patient is in a deep state of sleep but can still be awakened easily.
- General anesthesia. Patient is completely unconscious.
The different types of drugs used for sedation include:
Inhaled minimal sedation
This process will require that you breathe in nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas. Combined with oxygen, laughing gas is given through a mask that’s placed over your nose. The gas works by helping you relax. Your dentist will control the amount of sedation given. The gas can wear off quickly so you can drive yourself home after.
Oral sedation can be minimal to moderate. For minimal sedation, you will take a pill an hour before your procedure. The pill will make you drowsy but you will still be awake. To produce moderate sedation, a bigger dose may be given. With moderate sedation, you can become groggy or fall asleep. However, you can easily be awakened with a gentle shake.
IV moderate sedation
You will be given a sedative drug that is administered through your vein so it works quicker. The dentist can also continually adjust the level of sedation.
Deep sedation and general anesthesia
Under general anesthesia, you are totally unconscious or deeply asleep during the procedure. You also cannot be awakened easily until the anesthesia effects have worn off or are reversed with medication.
Answers to Common Sedation Dentistry Questions
Who are good candidates for sedation dentistry?
Sedation is considered appropriate for people with real anxiety or fear of the dentist or any dental procedure. Sedation dentistry may also be recommended for the following:
- Patients with a low pain threshold
- Patients who can’t sit still in the dentist’s chair
- Patients with very sensitive teeth
- Patients with a bad gag reflex
- Patients that require a lot of dental work
Children might also be sedated if they are terrified of the dentist or if they don’t cooperate during the visit.
Is sedation dentistry safe?
While there is always risk involved when getting anesthesia, sedation dentistry is considered safe given that it is performed by experienced and qualified dental professionals. However, patients who are obese or those with obstructive sleep apnea should speak with their doctors before getting sedation.
To ensure your safety during the procedure, it is important that you do the following:
- Have your dentist go over your medical history before a dental procedure. This is important so they can determine if you are a good candidate for medication. Make sure you also inform your dentist of any medications or supplements you are currently taking.
- Check with your dentist regarding the kind and dose of sedative that is appropriate for your health and age. You should also check if the dose is recommended by the FDA.
- Find out if your dentist has the right training and if they have performed sedation. The more experience your dentist has, the better.
- Often, you will receive a form that details the risks involved in the procedure. Go over the list carefully with your dentist. Don’t hesitate to ask questions if there is anything that you do not understand or if there is anything that you are worried about.