What is Sedation Dentistry?
Sedation dentistry, sometimes called “sleep dentistry,” uses medication to help their patients relax during dental procedures. Most patients are relaxed, but still awake. Only patients who are under general anesthesia are asleep and unconscious.
Sedation can be used for any dental procedure from simple teeth cleaning to surgery. The level of sedation will vary depending on the extent of dental work needed and the severity of the patient’s anxiety. The most common sedation techniques and practices used in dental offices include: inhaled minimal sedation, oral sedation, IV moderate sedation, deep sedation and general anesthesia.
The levels of sedation are the following (from weakest to strongest effect):
Minimal sedation – The patient is relaxed, but awake.
Moderate sedation – Patients won’t remember the procedure and may be drowsy enough to slur words.
Deep sedation – Patients are on the verge of consciousness, but can still be easily awakened.
General anesthesia – Patients are completely unconscious during the procedures.
Though sedation is often prescribed for patient comfort during more intensive dental procedures, it is often useful for patients who have odontophobia, or extreme fear of the dentist. Using sedation will calm the patient giving him or her a more positive dental experience and it allows the dentist to do the procedure quicker and more efficient.
Fear of the Dentist
The fear of the dentist is very common. Some estimate that as many as 75% of the US adult population fear going to the dentist to some extent. Of that percentage, 5-10% have a debilitating fear where they avoid the dentist at all cost. Typically, women fear going to the dentist than men and younger people are more afraid than older adults. Understandably, people are more fearful of more extensive dental procedures, such as surgery, than routine teeth cleaning.
Those who have such a strong fear of the dentist are putting their oral health at risk. Pain and discomfort are clues that something isn’t right and need prompt professional treatment. Unaddressed issues, especially those that can’t be felt or seen, can easily turn into more complicated conditions that require intensive dental treatment.
How Sedation Dentistry Helps
Sedation takes away the pain and discomfort of dental procedures. Patients who fear going to the dentist fear feeling pain. Sedation relaxes the patient’s muscles and provides temporary numbness in the mouth.
Sedation can help erase bad memories. Most patients develop a fear of the dentist, not because of a bad past experience (though that is a major reason for some), but because of the coldness of the dentist and the smells, sights and sounds of the office. Some sedation techniques are strong enough that the patient will not remember the procedure. Not being able to remember the procedure may help patients overcome the mental block or the pain of negative past dental office visits. Not remembering the procedure make the procedures not as bad in the patient’s mind and make future dental office visits less dreadful.
Make the dentist’s job easier. When a patient is relaxed and cooperative, the dentist can complete the procedure quicker. The longer a patient is in the dental office, the worse their fear may become. Lessening the time of their procedure will help ease their fear.
At Masterpiece Smiles, we understand your concerns which is why we offer oral sedation, nitrous oxide and general anesthesia to help make our patients relaxed and comfortable while at our office. Don’t let the fear of the dentist keep you from getting the dental care you need any longer. Call us today to set up an appointment and go over our sedation offerings.