What Is Sedation Dentistry?

For some people, just the thought of having their teeth treated is enough to cause unexplainable fear. They are so afraid of going to the dentist that they rather not get any treatment at all. If you are like that, would you rather endure the discomfort and pain than be seen by a dentist?

Today, there is a way to remove some of the anxiety associated with going to the dental clinic, and that is sedation dentistry.

What Sedation Dentistry Is All About

In sedation dentistry, medications are used to help patients get in a relaxed state while undergoing dental procedures. It is often called sleep dentistry, but the term is not entirely appropriate because unless you are under general anesthesia, you are awake and aware of what is going on.

In medicine, generally, there are various levels of sedation applied, and these are minimal sedation, moderate sedation, deep sedation, and general anesthesia.

When under minimal sedation, the patient is awake, but in a relaxed state. In moderate sedation, or conscious sedation as it was previously called, there may be a bit of a noticeable slur in your speech, and you may not remember everything that transpires in a procedure. When you are in deep sedation, you are almost unconscious but you can still be awakened, if necessary. Under general anesthesia, however, you are totally unconscious.

Types of Sedation Used in Dentistry

Following are the commonly-used types of sedation in dentistry:

Inhaled Minimal Sedation: The patient is made to breathe oxygen with nitrous oxide (laughing gas) through a mask placed over your nose. The gas is intended to keep you relaxed. Nitrous oxide tends to quickly wear off, and the amount of sedation applied is controlled by the dentist. In this type of sedation, the patient can drive home right after the procedure.

Oral Sedation: This is the kind of sedation that is often used in sedation dentistry. The level of sedation may be anywhere between minimal and moderate, depending on the dosage given. Sedation is usually administered by having the patient take a pill, which is often Halcion, a member of the same family of drugs as Valium. It is usually given about 1 hour before the patient is scheduled to undergo the procedure. It will cause drowsiness, but the patient is till awake.

Moderate Sedation: The sedative is given intravenously, so the effect is more quickly experienced. When using this method, the dentist may continuously adjust the sedation level.

General Anesthesia and Deep Sedation: Medications given will make the patient totally or almost unconscious during the entire procedure. The effects last until the anesthesia wears off. To wake the patient up, medication to reverse the effects is administered.

In all types of sedation, a local anesthetic is also applied to numb the area of the mouth where the dentist is working. This helps relieve any pain and discomfort experienced during the dental procedure.