Sedation dentistry may be a hidden blessing for some people. Even people with nerves of steel can find going to the dentist to be a nerve-wracking event. Sedation dentistry can calm children who are terrified of dental visits. However, some adults also experience anxiety during dental appointments. Depending on the level of fear, sedation can help patients whether it is for a procedure like a root canal or just a simple cleaning.
Sedation dentistry basics
Sedation is not anesthesia
This type of dentistry should not be confused with general anesthesia, which is an option if undergoing oral surgery. When sedation is administered, the patient will be awake throughout the visit. They will be aware of their surroundings and what is going on around them. It is sometimes known as “sleep dentistry,” but this is a misnomer as people are not asleep.
The sedation process
Typically, the sedation will be mild depending on the procedure. The dentist or dental assistant will fit the patient with a mask that produces a combination of nitrous oxide and oxygen. As they breathe in, the patient feels more relaxed. The dentist controls the amount of sedation the patient receives. When the procedure is complete, the gas wears off fairly quickly, and most patients can drive themselves home after the procedure.
Other common questions
Who can receive sedation dentistry?
While anyone can request it, there are specific categories of people who would benefit more from sedation dentistry. Patients that answer yes to any of these questions for themselves or their child may be good candidates for sedation dentistry:
- Is there a low tolerance for pain?
- Is there an inability to sit still in the dentist’s chair?
- Is there a bad gag reflex?
- Are teeth extremely sensitive?
- Is there a large amount of dental work scheduled?
Children who fear to visit the dentist or have a hard time staying still are also good candidates for sedation dentistry. Nitrous oxide is safe for children and dentists receive training on administering a proper amount depending on the child’s age and weight.
Do all dentists administer sedation?
Typically, most if not all dentists will administer the minimal amounts of sedation with nitrous oxide. Many utilize local anesthetics for dental procedures like extractions. Dentists who use other sedation methods have been trained on the correct techniques and should be able to produce certificates if there is any concern about their ability to perform the sedation.
Is sedation dentistry safe?
It is usually safe. However, certain health issues the patient may have, such as obesity or obstructive sleep apnea, may raise some concern. It is essential to consult with a healthcare provider first before undergoing any sedation. People with specific health issues may develop complications due to anesthesia.
Sedation dentistry is generally safe and appropriate for a variety of people. Taking advantage of this form of dentistry can make a trip to the dentist much more relaxing. If you have any questions or concerns regarding sedation dentistry, feel free to call our office today.
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