Sedation DentistryThe people who benefit most from sedation dentistry are nervous patients. If anxiety is stopping you from receiving dental care, you’re at risk of significantly damaging your oral health and general wellbeing.

Regular professional cleanings and checkups play a crucial role in helping to keep your teeth and gums in good shape, and prompt treatment in cases such as tooth decay or gum disease is essential to prevent further complications, including infections that can spread to other parts of your body.

Nevertheless, fear of seeing a dentist is a common problem. Research indicates that 75 percent of people experience some level of nervousness about dental appointments. Other studies show that 15 percent refuse to visit a dentist because they’re too afraid.

Getting the Dental Care That You Need

Even if you maintain a good routine of oral hygiene at home, routine visits to the dentist are necessary to detect indications of potential problems before they become serious issues.

And in the absence of regular cleanings by a dentist or dental hygienist, there’s an increased risk of tartar building up in your mouth, causing gum disease (periodontitis) and/or cavities (caries). Tartar (calculus) is bacteria-laden plaque that has calcified and it can only be removed by a dental professional.

Whether you suffer from a general anxiety disorder, have a phobia associated with dental procedures, or you had an unpleasant experience with dental treatment in the past, sedation dentistry allows you to get the dental care you need, avoiding a multitude of potential health issues.

While sedation dentistry is an attractive option for nervous patients, it’s imperative if you suffer from dental phobia (odontophobia).

The line between apprehension and phobia can be blurred, but without professional help, odontophobia is likely to worsen with time. If you become panic-stricken at the prospect of visiting a dentist, you may need help from a mental health specialist. If you call your dentist, they should be able to advise you about this.

Other Benefits of Sedation Dentistry

Even if the thought of seeing a dentist doesn’t fill you with dread, you may still find dental sedation beneficial.

For instance, sedation can make it easier to undergo dental care if you have a small or sensitive mouth. And if you’re resistant to local anesthetic, sedation dentistry will make treatment far easier for you.

Another reason people opt for sedation dentistry is for purposes of expediency when time constraints make multiple dental appointments undesirable. With sedation, more dental work can be carried out in fewer visits.

Sedation can also be beneficial if you have a strong gag reflex. Gagging involves both psychological and physiological reactions. Sedatives address both issues for procedures such as fillings, impressions, and X-rays.

Sedation can also make treatment more comfortable for patients with physical problems like neck or back problems.

Another reason people seek sedation dentistry is to help them adjust to the environment of a dental practice – some patients can be put off by the antiseptic smells and bright lights.

What Types of Sedation Dentistry Are Available?

Modern dentistry places greater emphasis on patient comfort, and today’s sedation dentistry techniques provide a range of safe and effective options.

Dental sedation calms patients by slowing reactions in the central nervous system. In most instances, you remain aware of what’s going on but less responsive to it. Sedation also reduces the sensation of pain.

Dental sedation is sometimes referred to as sleep dentistry. This is something of a misnomer – in most cases, patients stay awake.

Two common forms of sedation dentistry are intravenous sedation and oral conscious sedation. Sometimes a combination of the two can achieve the best results.

Benefits of Intravenous Sedation

With intravenous (IV) sedation dentistry, a sedative is injected into a vein in your arm or back of the hand. It works fast and your dentist can easily adjust the levels. The dosage will depend on your treatment and how long it will take.

IV sedation can induce various degrees of consciousness in which the patient becomes less aware of what’s going on and will probably remember little about the procedure afterwards.

Benefits of Oral Conscious Sedation

Sedation administered orally provides an effective solution for many anxious patients, particularly those with a fear of needles (belonephobia). Oral conscious sedation avoids the need for an intravenous injection – you simply take a pill ahead of treatment.

You stay awake after taking the sedative but remain relaxed during the procedure. Oral sedation can be mild or moderate. It’s less costly than intravenous sedation and has fewer side effects. While powerful sedatives like barbiturates carry a danger of addiction, the benzodiazepines used in sedation dentistry are non-addictive.

Nitrous Oxide Sedation

Nitrous oxide (laughing gas) can be used when only minimal sedation is necessary. It helps you to stay calm during treatment as you inhale a combination of nitrous oxide and oxygen through a mask, with your dentist controlling the levels. The effects of laughing gas wear off quickly.

Is Sedation Dentistry Safe?

Any type of sedation carries inherent risks. However, in the hands of an experienced sedation dentist, the danger of complications is minimal.

Ask your dentist about their training in sedation dentistry, and make sure they’re capable of administering the type of sedation you will be getting.

In deciding whether you’re suitable for sedation, your dentist will need to know your medical history and what medications you may be taking.

During sedation, the dentist will monitor your vital signs, including respiration and blood pressure, and have oxygen and medications on hand to reverse the effects if necessary.

Finding a Good Sedation Dentist

Besides putting your oral health in jeopardy, neglecting professional dental care also increases the risk of complications such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

If you’ve been putting off seeing a dentist through anxiety or any other reason, sedation dentistry could be the solution to help you get through any procedure, from cleanings to implants and extractions.

If you’re considering dental sedation, look for a dentist licensed in conscious sedation dentistry.