Most individuals tense with fear at the thought of having their teeth cleaned or would rather suffer the agony of a toothache than to go to the dentist. Many people have such a phobia about the dentist that they prefer not to receive any treatment. Sedation dentistry can alleviate some of that anxiety for some individuals. When choosing sedation dentistry it can be used for all procedures from a simple cleaning to all the major procedures. How sedation is used is based upon the severity of the phobia.
Sedation dentistry is where medication is used to assist the patient to relax during dental procedures. It has been referred to as “sleep dentistry’’ in the past, but that is not an accurate referral. Most patients remain awake with the exception of those that require general anesthesia.
There are different levels of anesthesia which include but are not limited to Minimal sedation, where the patient is awake but relaxed. Moderate sedation also being known as conscious sedation, this causes the patient to slur words and not remember much of the procedure. Deep sedation is where the patient is on the edge of unconsciousness but can still be awakened. Very last is general anesthesia, where the patient is completely unconscious.
As there are different levels of sedation there are also different types of sedation used for dental procedures. The most common types used in dental procedures are as follows, inhaled sedation also referred to as “laughing gas”. With inhaled sedation, the patient breathes nitrous oxide along with oxygen through a mask that is placed over the patient’s nose. When the gas is inhaled it assists the patient in relaxing. The dentist controls the amount of sedation the patient receives. This type of sedation wears off relatively quickly. Inhaled sedation is the only type of sedation where the patient is allowed to drive themselves home after a procedure. Oral sedation has a range from minimal to moderate. Minimal oral sedation is given in the pill form most commonly used is Halcion, which is in the drug family of Valium, and is given an hour before the dental procedure is performed. Oral sedation will make the patient drowsy, but they can remain awake. Oral sedation may be given in a larger dose to produce a more moderate effect. This is the type of sedation that is most popular in sedation dentistry. Some patients become drowsy enough to fall asleep with moderate oral sedation, but can be awakened easily enough.
There is also IV moderate sedation this allows the dentist to continually make adjustments to the level of sedation the patient is receiving. The patient receives this sedation through a vein, allowing it to become effect almost immediately. Lastly, there is general anesthesia or deep sedation that makes the patient completely unconscious during the procedure. When the patient receives general anesthesia they cannot be awakened easily nor quickly until it is reversed with another medication. Regardless of the level and type of anesthesia, the patient receives they still get a local to the site where the procedure is being performed to relieve pain.
With the advancements in technology and medication, patients have more options with dental insurance available to them when it comes to dental procedures.