Dental Sedation

Sedation Dentistry: Relax in the Dentist’s Chair?

If the thought of going to the dentist prompts an anxiety attack or a fear that you cannot deal with, there is help for you. A lot of people have odontophobia (fear of the dentist) and will endure the agony of a toothache rather than seeking any dental treatment. In fact, according to the Dental Organization for Conscious Sedation, 30% of the population avoids the dentist due to fear, preventing them from receiving necessary routine dental care.  


Sedation Dentistry can help.

Dentists use sedation or medication to help patients relax during procedures that can be as simple as teeth cleaning to invasive procedures that may be very painful. The dentist will select the level of sedation that best fits the procedure and the intensity of anxiety and fear. You may be given an inhaled gas called nitrous oxide (known as laughing gas) that is mixed with oxygen through a mask that is placed over the nose. Minimal sedation can also be given orally and with either, you are awake but relaxed. Moderate sedation is given by IV through a vein, which allows the dentist to adjust the level of sedation continually, as needed. At this level, you will not remember much of the procedure when it is over. With deep sedation, you will get medications that will put you almost to totally asleep during the procedure. In addition, the dentist will administer a local anesthetic (Novocain) to numb the area and relieve pain if the procedure causes discomfort.


Who is a good candidate for sedation dentistry?

Those that have a real fear or an anxiety that prevents them from seeing a dentist regularly or when they need treatment are people who can benefit from sedation dentistry. If you need extensive dental work or have a bad gag reflex, sedation can help.  Even those who can’t sit still in the dentist’s chair or who have a low pain threshold can be helped by sedation dentistry. Children who are terrified of the dentist or who refuse to cooperate during the visit can be given minimal sedation using nitrous oxide.


Who can perform sedation dentistry?

Thousands of dentists have chosen to be specially trained to implement sedation to relax their patients and create a comfortable dental experience. Only those who have completed the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) program can perform the complex techniques of deep sedation and general anesthesia. Typically, these professionals are oral and maxillofacial surgeons and dentist anesthesiologists, who are specially trained.


Is sedation dentistry safe?

Anesthesia always involves a risk, but it is usually safe when given by experienced dentists. Patients who are obese or who have obstructive sleep apnea should talk to their physician before having sedation. Before your procedure, your dentist will review your medical history, including any medications you may be taking. Be sure to ask about the recommended dose of the sedative your dentist is recommending. Ask your dentist about the training he or she has had in sedation dentistry and how many procedures have been performed. Ask about risks and be sure the dentist has oxygen and drugs that reverse the sedation, should they be needed.


What are the benefits of sedation dentistry?

The number one benefit is that it provides an incentive that gets fearful people to go to the dentist in the first place to get the care and treatment they need. In addition, those who undergo sedation dentistry feel like their procedure lasted only a few minutes, when it may have taken hours to complete.  Complex procedures that normally require multiple visits can often be performed in fewer appointments.

For those with odontophobia, sedation dentistry is a boon to their oral health. Sedation dentistry can ensure that patients receive safe, comfortable, and anxiety-free dental care.


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