If the thought of undergoing a dental procedure makes you panic, all’s not lost for your oral health. You can approach a sedation dentist to treat your teeth and gums. The simple fact is, dental anxiety in some form affects 75% of Americans, preventing many of them from seeking needed dental care. Ignoring this issue can lead patients to cancel appointments with their dentist and neglect their oral health.
Fortunately, advanced dentistry has found a way to help patients deal with this problem. Dentists now use sedatives to help patients calm down and relax during their treatment. From simple dental cleaning to surgical procedures, sedatives help patients undergo all sorts of dental procedures successfully. This post will shed light on some important aspects of sedation dentistry and hopefully help you understand what sedation dentistry can do for you.
What is Sedation Dentistry?
Put simply, sedation dentistry is the practice of using a sedative to help keep the patient calm during a dental procedure. This can take several forms, ranging from mild relaxation to full anesthesia. This sedation can be accomplished in a number of ways, with pills and inhaled sedatives (some called “laughing gas”) being the most common. Some sedatives are administered via IV. Typically, the sedative is administered about an hour before the procedure so that the patient can get used to the level of sedation being used. The patient’s vital signs are monitored closely while they’re sedated, and when the sedation takes to hold the procedure begins.
How Does Sedation Dentistry Feel?
In general, most people find sedation dentistry to be a fairly comfortable experience. The level of sedation used will depend on the procedure in question and the patient’s needs, but it breaks down into three levels:
- Minimal Sedation is the lowest level and the one we use most commonly. Generally administered via inhalation or a pill, minimal sedation gives the basic benefits of sedation dentistry by allowing the patient to relax and let go of any anxiety around the procedure. This kind of sedation wears off quickly.
- Moderate Sedation may be administered via pill, IV, or inhalation. This kind of sedation gives the patient a feeling of drowsiness akin to drifting off to sleep after a full day. It lasts longer than minimal sedation but wears off after the procedure is complete.
- Deep Sedation takes the patient into a controlled state of consciousness and unconsciousness, depending on how long the sedation has been in effect and the nature of the procedure being performed. Patients lose some control of their reflexes, so their condition is monitored closely, and the sedation typically lasts longer than either minimal or moderate sedation.
In addition to these forms of sedation, some sedation dentistry procedures are performed under general anesthesia. Just like during a surgical procedure, under general anesthesia, the patient is completely unconscious. While safe and routine, this sort of sedation is performed by a qualified anesthesiologist and is only for particular patients and procedures when it is most needed.
Is Sedation Dentistry Safe?
This is an important question, and the short answer is yes, sedation dentistry is safe. Before administering the sedative, your dentist will ask you a series of questions about your medical history, the medications you’re taking, and some other pertinent things about your health and habits. Based on that information, they’ll make an informed decision about whether or not sedation dentistry is the right choice and which sedative is right for you. The sedative will be administered by a qualified professional in a controlled environment, and your vital signs will be monitored closely the entire time the sedative is in effect. Sedation dentistry is a safe and easy way to deal with dental anxiety, so there’s no reason to be concerned.
Is Sedation Dentistry Right for Me?
So now that we’ve learned a bit about sedation dentistry and how it works, let’s look at one last question: is sedation dentistry right for you? That’s difficult to answer in the space of this blog–whether or not sedation dentistry is the right choice for you depends on a number of things. In general, we can say that if you experience anxiety or discomfort while undergoing dental procedures, or you get bored or frustrated sitting in the dentist’s chair for extended periods, then sedation dentistry is something to consider. The first step is to ask your dentist about sedation dentistry. They know your needs and medical history and can discuss what options might be best for you.
At our practice, we offer mild and moderate sedation dentistry, and we’re happy to discuss your needs and options. So if you’re overdue for a cleaning, curious about a cosmetic procedure, or just need an exam, get in touch today. We’ll make an appointment, get you in to see us, and talk about how we can help you attain the best possible dental health.