Whether it’s the prick of the numbing needle or the thought of someone literally drilling into your teeth, many have their reservations about going to the dentist.
Regardless of these fears, we know that it is still extremely important to monitor and take a proactive approach toward our dental health.
Sedation dentistry offers a way to allay those fears about sitting in that chair. With sedation dentistry, you are given medication that helps you relax throughout whatever procedure you’re having done.
There are several forms of sedation dentistry, outlined below:
–Minimal Sedation: you are awake, but relaxed.
–Moderate Sedation (previously called ‘conscious sedation’): you might not remember very much of the procedure and may slur your words while speaking.
–Deep Sedation: you are right on the verge of being unconscious, but may still be woken up.
–General Anesthesia: you are entirely unconscious and cannot be awakened.
These forms of sedation can be administered in a number of ways:
–Inhaled Minimal Sedation: A mask is placed over your nose which is connected to a tank of nitrous oxide (a.k.a. ‘laughing gas’). When you breathe in, the gas helps you relax. This is the only form of sedation where you may be able to drive yourself home after your procedure.
–Oral Sedation: This type of sedation ranges from minimal to moderate. For minimal, a pill is taken. (Usually Halcion). This pill is typically taken about an hour or so before the procedure. For moderate, a larger dose of this pill is ingested. The result is a general feeling of grogginess, sometimes even enough so to make you fall asleep through the procedure. You can usually be awakened with a gentle shake, however.
–IV Moderate Sedation: The drug is injected into a vein so it kicks in faster than other types of sedation. This method gives the doctor continuous control over the level of sedation.
–Deep Sedation and General Anesthesia: This type of sedation involves ingesting medications that will either render you close to, or completely unconscious. It is difficult to awaken a patient under general anesthesia unless the medication starts to wear off or is reversed by another form of medication.
Even with sedation dentistry, you are often likely to receive a local anesthetic (a.k.a. numbing medication) at the site in the mouth in which the dentist is working to relieve any pain or discomfort the procedure may cause.
Sedation dentistry is relatively safe, but is not without its complications. One way to avoid this is to go with a dentist who is experienced in sedation dentistry. Some other things to consider:
-Those who are obese or suffer from obstructive sleep apnea should consult with their doctor before having sedation. This is because they are more prone to develop complications from the anesthesia.
– Make sure your dentist goes over your medical history and is aware of any medications you are currently taking.
– Ask what dose would be appropriate for your current state of health as well as age range. Make sure you also find out the recommended dosage by the FDA.
– Find out how experienced your dentist is with sedation dentistry. Ask how many patients he or she has given anesthesia to and if they have ever experienced any complications.
– Make sure you receive a copy of the risks of the procedure and ask your dentist any and all questions you may have.
– Your dentist should make sure to monitor your vital signs throughout the procedure, following the guidelines outlined by the American Dental Association. They should also have oxygen (artificial ventilation) and other medications to reverse the effects of sedation, if necessary.