More than 8 percent of Americans do not get proper dental care because they are afraid of the dentist or some other aspect of dentistry like the tools, dental chair or treatment processes. Dental professionals commonly refer to this condition as dental phobia or anxiety. There are a number of different factors contributing to this problem, but the end result is often the same–patients missing out on optimal dental and medical health.
The Purpose of Sedation Dentistry
A common misconception among patients is the idea that sedatives replace local anesthesia or lidocaine. The fact is sedation dentistry only helps you relax and feel drowsy, but it doesn’t numb the pain. This means if your dentist doesn’t give you a shot of lidocaine before cleaning out your tooth, you will feel the pain even when you are sedated.Sedation is especially useful for children who have fear of dentists or other patients who do not have the capacity to sit still for longer treatments. Ultimately, the main goal of sedation dentistry is to make treatment easier, not only for the patient but also the dentist.
The Different Types of Sedation Dentistry
- Inhaled sedation. The dentist uses nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, as the mildest sedative in dental clinics. It gives you a feel-good sensation that keeps you relaxed throughout the procedure. Dentists usually give this to patients who are not getting painful or serious dental treatment.
- Oral sedation. Patient take drugs similar to Valium an hour before going to the dentist. This is a moderate sedative that keeps the patient half-conscious, but still able to respond to commands from the dentist. Some patients may fall asleep but are easily awakened after the dental procedure is done.
- Intravenous sedation. The dentist can administer other sedatives the vein and reserves these methods for moderate to deep sedation. Because of this, dentists do not advise the use of IV sedation for patients who are afraid of needles.
Some people may consider general anesthesia as a form of sedation, but professionals only use this sedation for cases when the operation is highly invasive, and it is rarely practiced in a dental office. General anesthesia is more commonly referred to as sleep dentistry because patients are completely unconscious under this drug. Patients also need to breathe through a tube because the muscles become too lax and collapse when deeply sedated.
Benefits of Sedation Dentistry
- It reduces anxiety. This is the original purpose of sedation dentistry and it remains to be the biggest advantage of this procedure. While sedated, patients have a better heart rate and more comfortable experience during dental treatment. Patients who were once terrified of dentists often forget their treatment experience as well as their fear and get through the session without problems.
- It helps patients relax. Some treatments are especially nerve-wracking, like tooth extraction and root canal therapy. However, with sedation dentistry, a patient can feel more relaxed and ready to undergo the treatment.
- It makes patients more cooperative. This is particularly applicable to children. Pediatric patients usually move a lot and avoid the dentist while getting treatment. By sedating the patients, it’s easier for dentists to perform their job without having to argue with struggling children.
- It makes treatment time seem shorter. Some treatments take multiple hours for the dentist to complete. With sedation dentistry, patients won’t even be able to track time. Before they know it, the dentist finishes the procedure, and they are ready to go home.
- It reduces pain after treatment. Most sedatives still work one or two hours after the dental treatment is completed. This keeps the patient relaxed even at home and while recovering, reducing the pain and speeding up the recovery process.
Is Sedation Dentistry Safe?
The short answer is yes. Sedation dentistry is a medical procedure that was tested for many years before professionals finally accepted it in modern practice. Different patients can receive different kinds of sedatives, especially children and patients with medical concerns. Dentists are very careful about such things and require a complete medical history check before administering any drugs.
Sedation Dentistry at Stetson Hills Dental Clinic
If you are uncomfortable at the dental clinic, but you understand the importance of dental care, we can help you relax through sedation dentistry. Our senior dentist will assess your overall health condition to ensure that you qualify for this procedure. If you are interested in sedation for you or your child, just pay a visit to our clinic and we will be more than happy to serve you.