Sedation dentistry

Easing Anxiety and Pain in Dental Procedures

Sedation dentistry involves the use of medication to help patients relax and remain calm during dental procedures. This approach is particularly useful for individuals who experience anxiety or fear when visiting the dentist, have a low pain threshold, or require extensive dental work. Sedation dentistry should be handled by trained and experienced professionals only.

Sedation Levels

From Minimal to Deep

There are different levels of sedation used in dentistry, including:

Minimal Sedation: This level of sedation leaves the patient awake but relaxed. It’s often achieved through the use of nitrous oxide (laughing gas), which is inhaled through a mask.

Moderate Sedation (Conscious Sedation): In this state, patients are conscious and can respond to verbal commands but are deeply relaxed. Sedatives like oral medications or intravenous (IV) drugs are commonly used.

Deep Sedation: Patients are on the edge of consciousness but can still be awakened. This level of sedation is typically administered through IV drugs.

Sedation dentistry

What & Why?

Many people are very fearful of visiting the dentist. Even ordinary cleanings put them in a state of fear. Because of it, they often avoid getting the treatments that they need until the pain becomes almost unbearable.

Whatever the reason for the fear, the result is the same – bad dental conditions that are going to be very costly to repair. Most likely, it is also affecting their health in other ways. Now, sedation dentistry offers a way for them and other people who would just prefer to be very relaxed or asleep during the procedure, to get the treatment that they need.

When given sedation dentistry, patients are not actually put to sleep as in general anesthesia. Instead, they are strongly relaxed and comfort, and they are still able to respond to the dentist. Some people will sleep, but they can be quickly woken when shaken.

Sedation dentistry also has some other common names that you may be familiar with. It is also called twilight dentistry, sleep dentistry, and painless dentistry. Millions of patients have enjoyed the benefits of twilight dentistry so far.

Oftentimes, children are also able to get dental treatments with sedation dentistry. The various levels of sedation are available to them, depending on the need.

There are several forms of painless dentistry. The various techniques enable almost anyone to benefit from it, depending on what they prefer. Sedation can be administered through:

  • Nitrous oxide – also known as laughing gas. The gas is applied through a mask to the nose that has a mix of oxygen and nitrous oxide. Some patients may need oral sedation as well as the gas. You will be relaxed even though you are awake. This provides the lightest type of sedation.
  • Oral sedatives(a pill or liquid) – for those who absolutely hate the sight of a needle. It will likely need to be taken about an hour prior to the dental procedure. Oral sedatives provide a moderate sedation enabling the patient to relax, and it reduces the pain that the patient will feel, as well as sights and sounds.
  • IV sedation – given through an IV in the arm. The mixture and degree of sedation can easily be controlled by the dentist or anesthesiologist. It gives the patient the deepest type of sedation without actually being general anesthesia. It creates a total unawareness of events or surroundings and the patient may actually sleep through the treatment. Most dentists do not have the license or training for it, but they may use another dentist or medical doctor to administer and supervise the anesthesia. Medications used are usually a mix, possibly including Versed, Valium, Demerol, and Fentanyl.

When nitrous oxide and oral sedatives are used, they may not be sufficient to relax the patient with themselves. This may require the use of other means to make the patient comfortable, such as oral sedation combined with nitrous oxide, etc.

In addition to oral sedation and nitrous oxide, the dentist is likely to use a local anesthetic as well. It is normally only given after the patient is so relaxed and comfortable that he or she will not matter or care about it. It will likely be used in all situations because the sedation medications only relax the patient, but they do not block pain.

Nitrous oxide has the advantage of having the fastest recovery time for the patient. A dentist or anesthesiologist simply needs to turn off the nitrous oxide and supply pure oxygen for a few minutes and you are ready to go. You probably could even drive home because the recovery is complete in just minutes.

Oral sedation takes the longest amount of time to recover. This is because how a person will absorb the medication and respond to it will differ with each person. It lasts longer and the individual may not be able to function well the rest of the day.

Intravenous sedation can be controlled through the IV. It can provide sedation in just a few minutes – usually less than 10, but as fast as 3). This includes providing more medication if a deeper state of relaxation is needed with quick results. Bringing the person out of the sedated state can also be achieved through the IV, as well as providing care immediately if there is a problem.

Sedation dentistry offers several benefits:

  • Available to adults and children
  • Enables people afraid of dentists to get the needed treatments without fear
  • Patients are still conscious and can respond (it is not general anesthesia)
  • Fast recovery – very little time is needed for recovery (except with oral sedatives)
  • Patients will not remember the dental treatment or drills.

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Sedation dentistry

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Adults and children who have difficulty visiting the dentist because of their fear or whose treatments are less successful because of their anxiety are very good candidates for sedation. It is recommended for people who:

    • Are extremely nervous or fearful
    • Have sensitive teeth and gag reflex
    • Don’t deal well with pain
    • Can’t sit still
    • Require extensive dental work

The doctor will tell you when the sedation medication is administered. You will then be unconscious for a while, and the dental procedures will be performed. You will wake up after the dental procedures are finished. You will have absolutely no perception of time, or anything while you are under the anesthesia. IV sedation is not similar to sleeping; you will not dream

Dental anxiety and phobia can have adverse impacts on your quality of life. If you’re so afraid of going to the dentist because of pain in the past, the bad experience(s) you had will stand in the way of you getting any further dental care.

Your fear becomes a significant obstacle to oral health and overall well being. Scientists have already proven links between periodontal disease and heart disease, as the bacteria in the mouth don’t simply stay in the mouth. They end up traveling throughout the entire body and lodge in the heart and blood vessels.

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