For many people, the idea of even a routine teeth cleaning at the dentist can fill them with anxiety and fear. Sometimes they would rather suffer through the pain of a toothache than visit the dentist and this can be extremely detrimental to their oral health. Fortunately, sedation dentistry offers ways to help remove some of the fear and anxiety of dental visits and get patients back to the office for regular exams, cleanings, and treatments.
Levels of sedation dentistry
During sedation dentistry, the dentist or dental professional helps patients relax using a medication option that best suits the patient’s needs. Although it’s sometimes called sleep dentistry, the patients are usually awake unless they need general anesthesia. The levels of sedation dentistry include:
- Minimal – patient is sedated and relaxed but awake
- Moderate – patient is awake but in a deeper sedation that may cause slurred speaking and lack of memory of the procedure
- Deep – patient is on the brink of unconsciousness but able to be woken up
- General anesthesia – patient is totally unconscious
Types of sedation dentistry
The type of sedation dentistry a patient receives depends on their comfort level and the dental treatment the dentist needs to perform. Types of sedation dentistry include:
Nitrous oxide – For inhaled sedation, the patient breathes in nitrous oxide which some know as laughing gas. Through a mask placed over the nose, the patient breathes in a combination of nitrous oxide and oxygen that helps them relax. The gas wears off quickly, and the dentist controls how much sedation the patient receives. This form of sedation dentistry is the only one where a patient may be capable of driving himself or herself home following treatment.
Pills – For oral sedation, the patient takes a sedative approximately one hour before treatment, and the pill makes them drowsy but still awake. Most people associate this type of treatment with sedation dentistry, and the effects range from feeling groggy to falling asleep. The dentist can usually awaken a sleeping patient with a gentle shake.
IV sedation – This moderate form of sedation administers the sedative into the patient through a vein. This method works quickly, and the dentist can adjust the sedation level as needed.
General anesthesia – For deep sedation, the patient receives general anesthesia that renders them mostly or completely unconscious throughout the procedure. Patients don’t wake up until the medications wear off, or the dentist reverses their effects with different drugs.
During almost all types of sedation dentistry, the dentist administers a local anesthetic to numb the area and relieve any discomfort during the procedure.
Appropriate candidates for sedation dentistry
Patients who have a genuine fear of the dentist or suffer from dental anxiety that makes it difficult or impossible to visit the dentist can benefit from sedation dentistry. Appropriate candidates for sedation dentistry include patients who have a low pain threshold, sensitive teeth, a bad gag reflex, can’t remain still in the chair or require extensive dental work. Although there is always a risk involved when receiving anesthesia, sedation dentistry is extremely safe when performed by a qualified, experienced dental professional. It’s important that a patient discusses any medical conditions they have or medications they take with their dentist prior to sedation dentistry.
Don’t let dental fear or anxiety keep you from having a healthy, stunning smile. Contact Creative Dental to find out how we can make your next visit to the dentist comfortable and relaxed.
“Having a board certified anesthesiologist who can come into the office allows us to offer our patients in-office sedation, which is much more convenient than ever before.”