For ages, the field of dentistry has been associated with physical pain, mental anxiety and fear. If you experience these feelings when you think of dental work, you are like most people and there is absolutely nothing wrong with you! Do not feel guilty; don’t beat yourself up. It is not your fault you (probably) had a negative experience as a child, which now casts a shadow over you as an adult. Even though modern dentistry takes the pain away from the actual dental work procedure, many still experience an inner mental pain which stems from past experience and the unspoken expectation that it could hurt. Good news! Sedation dentistry offers more than just removal of physical pain; it offers a solution to the anxiety and fear problem many of our patients have. Through various medications and agents, our patients now can experience dental work without fear and anxiety and actually say it was a great experience for them. Many of our referrals come to us from patients we have treated under some form of sedation. It is a wonderful experience, and once experienced the majority of the patients elect to continue to have future dental work completed while sedated.
Why Sedation Dentistry
When you can undergo dental work and associate it with a positive experience, why not? It is a safe way to alleviate the fear of drills. Patients who have stayed away from the dentist for years due to their unspoken fear find themselves with advanced stages of dental diseases; being able to get over the emotional obstinances allows these patients to regain a high level of oral health.
Methods of Sedation
- Nitrous oxide (laughing gas) is the mildest form of sedation.
- Conscious Sedation induced by a very safe medication can range from mild to moderate levels of sedation. The medication used causes a feeling of comfort and relaxation for a short duration, lasting one to several hours. Oftentimes, memory of the dental visit is vague creating an additional level of emotional comfort for future dental visits.
- Deep Sedation by IV is also a common method for sedating a patient for dental visits, especially wisdom teeth extractions.
- General Sedation is most often used in hospital settings and is rarely seen in dental offices. Since other methods of sedation lend themselves to dental applications, our office does not make use of this sedation level as it is virtually never needed.
Sedation is a very safe procedure.
Sedation is practically the most economical method for caring for a patient with dental anxiety. When dental problems are left untreated due to a high level of anxiety, they become more difficult and more costly to treat. Therefore, undergoing dental care as early as possible under the safe effect of sedation is by far the most economical way to care for one’s dental health.
Patients undergoing dental care with laughing gas remember everything as the nitrous oxide effect on the human brain is limited to reducing anxiety and mildly reducing perception of pain. However, patients undergoing dental care under the effect of anxiolytics (sedation medications) remember some, little, or nothing from the treatment visit. This is the main reason our patients carefully coordinate their treatment with our office by taking care of all consents, questions, payments prior to treatment appointment, and are driven home by a family member.
Each sedation method affects patients differently. While laughing gas effects are over when the treatment is over, medication based sedation causes a longer effect. Patients are advised to take the entire day off from work or other activities and to have someone accompany them for the rest of the day. Many of our patients report going home and having a big lunch then taking a nap in the afternoon. They describe their day as being one of their most relaxing days!