Sedation dentistry helps calm children and adults during various procedures. When people delay important checkups and cavity treatment, undiagnosed, minor health problems can potentially turn serious. Once the problem worsens, treatment may become more complicated. Because of the great advances in sedation dentistry, patients do not feel pain while the dentist is fixing a smile.
How Sedation Dentistry Works
Sedation dentistry uses medication that allows patients to feel at ease during a dental procedure. Your professional dentist administers that medication and monitors your blood pressure, respiratory rates, and oxygen saturation so you are comfortable and safe. Beforehand, your doctor will disclose any potential side-effects. At that time, patients must disclose any medication (including vitamins and herbal remedies) they are currently taking. Possible complications may arise when sedation is combined with certain types of medication. Although it is also referred to as “sleep dentistry,” patients remain conscious, except those under general anaesthesia.
Levels of sedation used include:
- Minimal Sedation – The patient is relaxed but awake.
- Moderate Sedation – Patients are conscious, but may not remember much about the procedure.
- Deep Sedation – Although patients are on the edge of consciousness, they can still be awakened.
- General Anaesthesia – The patient is eased into a sleep state and is unconscious throughout the procedure.
The type of sedation used depends on the treatment (or surgery) scheduled. For instance, your dentist may write a prescription for oral sedation and instructions to take it before you arrive for your appointment, allowing for reduced restlessness and increased relaxation during the procedure. Your doctor may ask you to avoid eating or drinking hours before your dental work. Once the medication kicks in, you will start to feel drowsy and relaxed. You’ll also need to arrange for a ride home (or an escort on public transportation).
Why should I consider sedation?
- Phobias are diminished
- Past negative experiences are overcome
- Nerve and teeth sensitivity isn’t felt
- Anxiety is reduced
- Local anaesthesia is rendered unnecessary
- Complex procedures can take place in comfort
- Gag reflex ceases to be a factor
Sedation dentistry helps patients relax during a root canal, dental implants, and tooth extraction. It is not usually used for bi-yearly cleanings, routine care, and X-rays, but in some cases, the dentist may recommend sedation for simple dental procedures.
Types of Sedation Used in Dentistry
There are four types of sedation dentistry. The dentist can also customize the sedation to match your specific needs by combining different approaches.
- Inhalation – Nitrous oxide (popularly known as “laughing gas”) is combined with oxygen. A mask is placed over the nose and the patient inhales the gas. This eases mild to moderate anxious feelings. The amount of sedation administered to the patient is controlled by the dentist, but its effectiveness wears off quickly (compared to the other sedatives). Patients given inhalation sedation may be still aware of their surroundings. The patient experiences a relaxing feeling throughout his/her body, and is able to return to most normal activities after the procedure.
- Oral – This is perhaps the most common type of dental sedation given to patients. The amount of dosage administered ranges.
Minimal. The dentist recommends you ingest a prescribed pill an hour before the appointment. It allows your body to feel more calm and ready for dental treatment.
Moderate. A larger dosage is given to the patient. Some patients may be groggy and fall asleep during the procedure. However, they can be awakened with a gentle shake. Do not drive to or from the appointment and ask someone to accompany you before, during, and after your visit.
- IV – A sedative is injected into the patient’s vein and works quickly. The dentist can adjust the amount of sedation throughout the patient’s time in the chair. IV sedation is usually used for complex dental work. In some instances, two dentists will be present. One will place the IV, administer the medication, and check the level of sedation, while the other performs the treatment. The patient will have little or no memory of the procedure.
- Deep Sedation and General Anaesthesia – Depending on the strength of medication, deep sedation can either place a patient at the edge of unconsciousness or completely unconscious. With general anaesthetic, the patient is unconscious and is not easily awakened until the effects of the anaesthesia subside or are reversed by another administered medication.
No matter the purpose of your appointment (other than a basic cleaning), local anaesthesia is almost always administered to numb the treatment site and prevent any discomfort during the procedure.
How Safe is Dental Sedation?
Sedation dentistry is safe when administered by a licensed and experienced oral health care professional. Patients with severe weight problems or obstructive sleep apnea must consult with their general physician and dentist to determine the best course of action.
Before receiving sedation dentistry, follow these tips:
- Talk to the dentist about your medical history and the medications you are currently taking.
- Ask about the dosage appropriate for your age and health. Inquire if the drug is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or Health Canada.
- Know your dentist’s qualifications and experience with sedation dentistry and the number of procedures he/she performed.
- Ask your doctor to detail any risks that come with the procedure. Ask questions and express concerns, if you have them.
Are You a Candidate for Dental Sedation?
Your dentist will evaluate your overall health (including physical and mental conditions) before recommending sedation dentistry. There are certain health conditions (e.g. cardiovascular disease, hypertension, lung problems, and diabetes) that require clearance from a physician. Once you receive medical clearance, the dentist can recommend effective dental sedation approaches to help you feel relaxed while they and their team resolve your oral health issues.
Dental sedation enables patients to receive the care and repairs they need. It is a useful tool for a comfortable, positive experience. Sedation dentistry also enables the dentist to perform his/her job faster and more efficiently, while the patient is in a relaxed state.
For caring, effective sleep dentistry in Sarnia, reach Lambton Family Dental at (519) 344-5747. Our licensed health care professionals have years of experience, and our staff will help put you at ease. Relieve your tooth and gum pain; repair any oral health problems today. Call or schedule a consultation by using our online form.