How Sedation Dentistry Works to Relax Anxious Patients
It’s common for patients to feel a bit of anxiety when visiting their dentist. Too much anxiety, however, can prevent patients from receiving the care they need.
Many patients avoid visiting their dentist due to their fear and anxiety, but this habit can lead to serious oral health problems. Evidently, this turns out to be very counter-productive as serious oral health problems require more extensive dental treatments.
For those who suffer from dental anxiety, there are options and solutions that can alleviate the discomfort. Sedation therapy, for instance, can ease the mind and body to allow for a pain and anxiety free dental appointment.
Talk to your dentist about sedation dentistry for a comfortable dental experience.
What is Sedation Dentistry and How Does it Work?
Before or during a dental procedure, your dentist will administer a sedative drug. The effects of this drug will last for the duration of your treatment and sometimes longer.
Depending on the type of sedation therapy you and your dentist choose, it is possible to remain conscious or unconscious for the duration of the treatment.
There are various levels of sedation, which include:
- Minimal sedation—although awake, patients do not feel any pain from the treatment which they are receiving.
- Moderate sedation—patients have little to no memory of the dental procedure and might slur their words.
- Deep sedation—patients are deeply sedated and almost unconscious but can still be awakened.
- General anesthesia—patients are completely unconscious and cannot be awakened during the treatment.
How is Sedation Administered?
When discussing sedation dentistry with your dentist, you will find out which types of sedatives your dentist uses.
Your dentist will go over all important details with you and will help you choose the best type of sedation according to your needs, your medical history, and any medications you take.
Sedation dentistry techniques include:
Also known as laughing gas, nitrous oxide offers complete relaxation during dental treatments to relieve patients from stress. Your dentist might administer the gas before, during, and even after treatment.
This gas is mixed with oxygen which makes it easy to breathe in. Your dentist will place a small mask on your nose so you can inhale the gas.
Intravenous (IV) sedation dentistry will ease any pain and discomfort. Depending on the type, you might remain conscious during the dental procedure, but be less aware and have little memory of the treatment. This is also known as “twilight sleep.” It is also possible to be completely unconscious which is called general anesthesia.
With IV sedation, you might have to fast for several hours before your appointment. You may also be required to avoid taking certain medications. Your dentist will inform you on how to prepare for this type of sedation therapy.
Your dentist will write you a prescription for an oral sedative (usually a pill) that you must take one hour before your dental appointment.
Once it starts working, you will feel content, at ease and drowsy.
Depending on which sedation is used, your dentist may require that you have someone drive you to and from your dental appointment.
Is Sedation Dentistry for Everyone?
Anyone who is afraid to visit the dentist can benefit from sedation dentistry. It is, however, rather useful for other patients as well (including children) who:
- Associate the dentist with negative memories of uncomfortable or painful dental procedures;
- Are fearful, are feel sensitive or overwhelmed by the noises, lights and smells of dental offices;
- Have phobias about certain dental procedures;
- Are afraid of pain;
- Fear needles;
- Have very sensitive oral nerves;
- Don’t feel pain relief from local anesthetics;
- Are having a complex or long procedure;
- Have a strong gag reflex;
- Can’t open their mouth for long periods due to pain from TMJ issues;
- Have small mouths that become sore quickly; and
- Can’t sit for long periods of time without fidgeting.
What Are the Benefits of Sedation Dentistry?
The many benefits of sedation dentistry include:
Sedation therapies not only relax your mind, but your muscles as well. This means patients do not need to worry about feeling sore or uncomfortable.
Since your mind and body are relaxed, your dentist will have an easier time completing the dental work without any disruptions.
Reduced Gag Reflexes
For those with a sensitive gag reflex, dental procedures can be quite difficult. Under sedation, patients won’t gag. This makes the treatment easier for both the patient and the dentist.
Sedation dentistry will save you and your dentist time. Your dentist can complete all treatments in one appointment efficiently.
Limited Memory of Treatment
Patients typically have little to no memory of their dental treatments if heavily sedated. Instead, they feel like the treatment took only a few minutes.
This is especially helpful for invasive procedures like extractions, root canals, and gum surgery, since they can make patients particularly anxious.
Sedation therapy helps patients receive dental care more often and prevent oral health problems.
If you experience anxiety or phobia at the thought of going to the dentist, you are not alone. If your child experiences dental anxiety, there are pediatric sedation dentistry options available as well.
Talk to your dentist about sedation dentistry to ease your pain, stress, and anxiety so you can enjoy a comfortable dental appointment.
Dr. Hanan Taraf is an experienced dentist. Her first practice was in Morocco, where she was born and raised. In 2005, she came to Canada, studying at the Université de Montréal where she earned her Canadian DMD Degree, graduating in June of 2010. She’s never stopped learning, however; Dr. Taraf’s dedication to continuing education led her to take further studies so she could offer oral sedation to ensure even the most anxious patients are able to enjoy stress-free treatment. Dr. Taraf is also a graduate from the University of Toronto’s Mini Implant Residency with associate professor Dr. Mark Lin.