Sedation dentistry allows anxious patients to relax during dental procedures. For many people who fear going to the dentist, sedation dentistry is the only way they will consider getting the dental care they need. Some dental patients have had a bad experience at the hands of a dentist or they can’t handle the stress of sitting in a dental chair for a long period of time.
WebMd recommends sedation for patients with sensitive teeth, previous dental trauma, complex dental problems, or fear of needles. People with dental phobias are also prime candidates for sedation. Your dentist can go over the types of sedation they offer.
The Different Types of Sedation
There are different types of sedation available for dental patients. One of the mildest sedatives used is laughing gas or nitrous oxide. It is administered through a mask. This is a very mild way to sedate a patient where you are still awake and aware of what is going on. Since the gas wears off rather quickly, you can drive home after the treatment.
Oral sedation is another way dentists sedate patients, ranging from minimally to moderately strong. Halcion is a pill that is considered a light sedative. It is similar to Valium. This renders a patient drowsy, but still conscious and awake. Larger doses produce a stronger impact. This type of sedation is commonly used in dental offices. Some people fall asleep in the chair, but they can still be awakened rather easily with a nudge.
In situations where it is important for the sedation to take effect more quickly, IV sedation is administered intravenously. This allows the dentist to adjust sedative levels as necessary.
General anesthesia and deep sedation options are also available. These medicines will make patients either close to being unconscious or completely asleep. This will have to wear off before a patient can be awakened. Typically, a local or numbing agent will also be used to ensure there is no pain at the site of the dental work.
The Risks of Sedation
Central nervous system (CNS) depressants alter a patient’s level of consciousness. There is always a slight chance of complications. Respiratory and cardiovascular related complications are the most serious. While it is a rare occurrence, death is a remote possibility and is more likely to occur in patients who are somehow medically compromised.
Since dental procedures are not generally a life or death proposition, it can be difficult to justify sedation when it could possibly result in death. That can be the hardest thing for a dentist to explain to a patient who is already afraid of dental care and suffers from anxiety related to dental treatments.
It is important to remember anesthesia and sedation risks are extremely low when monitoring devices are used by well trained professionals. In cases where a separate practitioner who is trained specifically in general anesthesia administers it as part of a two-person team, Washington faculty reported that the the risks decreased significantly from 1 in 248,000 to 1 in 598,000.
The benefits of sedation dentistry are many. Too many patients have stopped going to the dentist putting their dental health in jeopardy. Since it is impossible to completely eliminate any possibility of complications, sedation dentistry must be considered seriously before assuming the added risk.
Older and younger patients are at a higher risk for complications from sedation or anesthesia. People with other medical problems are also statistically more likely to suffer complications. When you consider these facts, then it can be easier to make a decision about whether to move forward with dental sedation.
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