Are you so scared of the dentist that you would rather live with the pain of a toothache rather than make an appointment? You’re not alone. It’s been said that as much as 15% of the population is afraid of the dentist and refuse to go because of it.Thankfully there is a solution. By giving the patient something which helps them relax, they can overcome their fear and receive the oral care they need.
WHAT IS SEDATION DENTISTRY?
Sedation dentistry uses medication in order to put the patient in a relaxed state during dental procedures. Patients aren’t necessarily asleep like they are during major surgery, but they are relaxed enough to not be as bothered by the dentist.
There are four different levels of sedation a patient can be under:
- Minimal Sedation: This is the lightest form of sedation where the patient is a little relaxed but is fully conscious. This kind of sedation is good for patients who are anxious about the dentist, but not paralyzed with fear about it.
- Moderate Sedation: This is the next step up where the patient is even more relaxed, almost to the point of falling asleep. The patient is still conscious, but they might not remember much of the procedure and could feel the sedation effects a number of hours after the appointment.
- Deep Sedation: This is an even deeper relaxation where the patient is on the verge of being asleep. They can still be woken up fairly quickly and easily, but there is a high chance the patient will not remember much, if anything, of the procedure.
- General Anesthesia: The patient is completely unconscious and can only be woken up after the procedure is completed and once the anesthesia is out of the patient’s system.
HOW IS SEDATION GIVEN?
There are three ways the sedation is given:
- Nitrous Oxide (or Laughing Gas): This is the most common form of sedation. Patients breathe a combination of the gas and oxygen and it causes a drowsy, relaxed feeling. Regular doses of pure oxygen can pull a patient out of the drowsy state, so this is an easily reversible tactic for keeping patients relaxed. This is also the most popular method for children as the nitrous oxide/oxygen mixture is very safe.
- Oral Sedation via a pill: Patients are given a pill similar to Valium which will put them in their relaxed state. This type of method is used for mild or moderate sedation depending on how the patient reacts to the medicine.
- IV Sedation: This is how a dentist can administer both the anesthesia for deep sedation and also other kinds of medicine for relaxation. The medicine is administered through a vein in the arm. This is a quicker method of getting the medicine to the patient but is used mostly with deep sedation or anesthesia.