Are you afraid of going to the dentist? Lean more about Sedation Dentistry. Many people today have a significant fear or even outright phobia of going to the dentist. While some may think this is a minor problem that the majority of dental patients experience, a true phobia of dentists can present very serious issues.
If such a phobia keeps a patient from having regular check ups and cleanings, it can lead to serious tooth decay, dental infections, loss of teeth, and other serious problems. You don’t have to suffer the effects of neglecting your oral health, nor do you have to quake in fear every time you’re due for a dental check up. Finding a sedation dentist in Houston can be just the solution you’re looking for, and here we will answer some important questions that many people have about sedation dentistry.
What is Sedation Dentistry?
Sedation dentistry generally refers to the practice of using a variety of calming, or sedating, medications to relax patients prior to having dental work done. Patients remain awake and in control of their dental experience, but they are relaxed and usually won’t even remember having the work done. For patients who have a serious phobia of going to the dentist, finding a sedation dentist can be a life altering experience that frees them from intense fear each time a trip to the dentist is needed.
Sedation Levels and Techniques
Just how does sedation dentistry work? There are a variety of levels of sedation that can be used, depending on the needs of the patient. These are listed below.
* Minimal Sedation – the patient remains fully awake but is in a more relaxed state
* Moderate Sedation – a deeper level of relaxation is achieved, the patient may be too relaxed to speak properly, and will likely not remember much about the experience
* Deep Sedation – the patient can be almost unconscious but will be able to be woken up if spoken to or touched
* General anesthesia – sedation as used with typical surgical procedures in which the patient is fully unconscious and cannot be woken up verbally
Types of Medications Used in Sedation Dentistry
There are a variety of medications that can be used to achieve sedation prior to dental work. The most commonly used medications are listed below.
* Inhaled Medications – A variety of medications in gas form, also referred to as laughing gas, can be inhaled by the patient prior to starting their dental work or exam
* Oral Medications – This is referring to medications taken in pill form prior to the start of dental work
* IV Sedation – This is referring to drugs administered through an IV in the patient’s hand or arm
There are pros and cons to each type of drug used and each method of administering them. With inhaled medications, the desired effect is achieved quickly but also wears off relatively fast. With oral medications, it may take an hour or more for the drugs to have the desired effect, but once they do the patient is relaxed but can usually be woken with a gentle touch. With IV sedation, a major drawback is that the patient must be stuck with a needle. Many patients who have dental phobias may also have serious needle phobias, so this may be a less desirable option for them. On the plus side, the dentist and his medical team can closely monitor the level of sedation achieved and deliver more medication through the IV as needed, and can even fully put the patient to sleep if desired. Your dentist can help you determine which method is right for you.
What Does Dental Sedation Feel Like?
Most patients who receive minor forms of sedation will simply recall a warm or relaxed feeling overtaking them as the medication begins to take effect. Depending on the level of sedation achieved, they may remember certain details of the experience or they may recall next to nothing. The relaxing effects wear off gradually over time, so the patient will need to have someone accompany them to their appointment who can make sure they get home safely.
Who is Sedation Dentistry Best For?
Sedation dentistry is best, first and foremost, for those patients who have a severe phobia of going to the dentist. However, sedation dentistry can be useful in many other cases as well. Individuals who have a low pain tolerance may find the added benefit of sedation very helpful. Those who have trouble sitting still for longer dental procedures can also find this beneficial. Those who have extremely sensitive teeth or an overactive gag reflex may also find sedation helpful, as it will relax the gag reflex and reduce sensitivity. Last but not least, anytime a patient has a large amount of dental work that needs to be done in a single sitting, sedation techniques can make this process much more bearable. While the other options may not be a great choice, oral sedation can be helpful for children as well and is generally quite safe as the dosage can be carefully based on the child’s weight.
Finding a Sedation Dentist
Can all dentists perform sedation dentistry? Most dentists can offer the more mild forms of sedation, such as laughing gas, or can prescribe anti-anxiety pills. However, if you are wanting to achieve deeper levels of sedation, it is important to look for a dentist trained and accredited in moderate or deep levels of sedation. These deeper levels of sedation require someone specifically skilled in the administration of anesthesia, especially when full general anesthesia is being used.
If you tremble in fear when you even think about setting foot in your local dentist’s office or you repeatedly postpone your annual checkups because of anxiety, sedation dentistry can help you get the dental care you need to remain healthy. Please don’t live in fear of going to the dentist any longer. We can help by taking a full medical history, listening to your fears and concerns, and determining which type of sedation techniques and administration is best suited for your specific needs.