Sedation dentistry is really quite common, and is used to help ensure a dental procedure goes smoothly by reducing the patient’s anxiety. It is also often used if patients have a bad gag reflex, low pain threshold, or very sensitive teeth.
However despite how common sedation dentistry is nowadays, many people have misconceptions about what it is, and don’t really understand it.
“What is Sedation Dentistry?”
Contrary to popular belief, sedation Dentistry won’t necessarily ‘knock out’ the patient. Instead, it uses various types of medication that will help to make you feel relaxed.
Technically there are several levels of sedation dentistry, including:
- Minimal sedation that will help you feel relaxed but still let you respond normally to verbal commands.
- Moderate sedation that will make your speech slurred and may prevent you from remembering some parts of the procedure.
- Deep sedation that will suppress your consciousness but still allow you to be awakened.
- General anesthesia which will make you completely unconscious and unable to be aroused.
The exact level of sedation that you will require will depend on several factors including the type of procedure, its duration, and the severity of your dental anxiety.
Common Types of Dental Sedation
While there are many different types of sedation available nowadays, the ones that are most often used for dental procedures are:
- Inhaled sedation that normally takes the form of laughing gas (i.e. nitrous oxide) that is delivered via a mask and will help you to relax. It is the only form of sedation that can be used and yet will still let you drive home safely.
- Oral sedation consist of different types of medication delivered in pill form. The most common is Halcion that can be used to produce mild sedation or moderate sedation in larger doses.
- IV sedation can deliver drugs for either deep sedation or general anesthesia. Because the drug is being delivered via the vein, the dentist or anesthetist will be able to adjust it if required.
As you can imagine the most common type of sedation used by dentists is inhaled sedation. That being said for deeper levels of sedation, oral or IV sedation is necessary.
“Is it Safe?”
One of the main concerns that people have regarding sedation dentistry is whether or not it is safe. The short answer to that is simple: Yes it is.
In general the risks of side effects due to sedation are minimal. At most you’ll probably feel groggy afterwards, and may need some rest.
For some groups of people such as those who are obese or suffer from sleep apnea, there is a small risk of complications. If you do have any medical issues you should be sure to inform your general anaesthetic dentist beforehand, so that they can take appropriate measures.
All in all sedation dentistry is a useful and safe way that may help you to cope with your dental anxiety as well as various other issues. If you aren’t sure about it or have any misgivings, be sure to ask your dentist about them.