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Sedation dentistry is a term that refers to the use of anesthesia during treatment to put patients into a relaxed state, almost like sleep. Sedation dentistry is often used during procedures that require an extensive amount of time in the treatment chair, and sedation is ideal for patients who exhibit dental phobia or have difficulty controlling their movements. While sedation dentistry implies that patients are unconscious, this is usually not the case. Some forms of sedation dentistry simply alleviate anxiety or put patients in a sleep-like state, so that little is felt or remembered from the dentistry procedure.
Types of sedation we offer:
Depending on the extent of the anxiety or phobia, varying degrees of dental sedation can be utilized, including conscious sedation with sedatives, inhalation nitrous oxide sedation, and intravenous (IV) sedation. These sedation dentistry techniques enable patients who might otherwise avoid the dentist to receive dental treatment necessary for a healthy smile. There are four types of dental sedation methods used by sedation dentists today:
- Oral sedatives: Oral sedative medications such as diazepam can be given to a patient the night before a dentistry procedure or 30 minutes to an hour before the dental appointment, depending on the severity of the anxiety. Oral sedatives do not provide pain relief, so an injection of local anesthetic will also be administered.
- Nitrous Oxide Sedation: In one form of conscious inhalation sedation, nitrous oxide gas (also known as laughing gas) is used to induce a state of relaxation. A local anesthetic will be administered in combination with nitrous oxide sedation to eliminate pain.
- .Anxiolysis: This refers to methods of inducing “light sedation.” There are several forms of sedatives that result in anxiolysis; however, nitrous oxide, a form of inhalation sedation, is the most commonly used method to bring on this type of relaxation.
- Conscious sedation: Moderate dental sedation can refer to either nitrous oxide or IV sedation. These sedatives can induce conscious sedation, where the patient will be awake and able to respond to commands, but will be in a state of extreme relaxation
Candidates for Dental Sedation
While sedation dentistry is not for everyone, it may be the answer you’ve been seeking for yourself or a loved one. Sedation dentistry could be right for you if you exhibit any of the following:
- Dental anxiety
- Sensitive teeth
- Difficulty getting numb
- Complex dental issues
- Fear of needles
- Limited time to complete dental work
- Traumatic dental experiences
- Difficulty controlling movement
Patients with cerebral palsy or Parkinson’s disease sometimes are unable to control their movements. This can impede these patients from getting the dental care they need. Sedation dentistry can relax a patient so that involuntary movements don’t interfere with dental work.
Patients who have a medical condition should notify their dentist about the condition prior to a sedation dentistry procedure. Patients should also notify their dentist about any medications they are currently taking. Any previous allergic reactions to medications should also be reported to the sedation dentist. Sedation dentistry is generally reserved for patients who are 18 years old and older. However, there are pediatric sedation dentists available to treat children who cannot tolerate dental work.