Sedation Dentistry

Sedation dentistry involves the use of sedative drugs to induce a relaxed feeling in a patient. Some of these sedative drugs are tranquilizers, depressants, nitrous oxide, and anti-anxiety medicines.

During the early years of sedation dentistry, the method of delivering the sedative drug was through an intravenous injection. Today, the sedative drug is delivered through inhalation. The oral method of sedation dentistry removes the anxiety of being exposed to a needle.

Although known as “sleep dentistry,” sedation dentistry is not the same as general anesthesia. It does not knock out the patient fully. In fact, the patient remains awake and lucid even after taking the sedative drug. The only difference is that the patient will be more relaxed during the dental visit.

Symptoms that Warrant Sedation Dentistry

Sedation dentistry, although safe, is given only during special situations. For example, when the dental procedure is complicated or protracted, such as in a smile makeover, sedation dentistry will be useful in keeping the experience pleasant for the patient.

There are also cases when the dentist believes that it will be in the best interest of the patient to undergo sedation, even when the dental procedure is simple. For example, sedation is used for patients who display symptoms of extreme dental phobia. Dental phobia prevents a person from seeing any dentist, even for a routine cleaning. Dental phobia sacrifices oral health, and to overcome the phobia and to calm a patient’s nerves, sedation is performed.

Sedation Dentistry Procedures

Before any sedation is carried out, the dentist will ask for information about the current medicines that the patient is taking. This will prevent any unwanted interaction between the sedation drug and the medicines taken by the patient.

The degree of sedation will depend on the need for sedation, on the anxiety level of the patient, and on the complexity of a dental procedure. The sedation can range from mild to deep. Mild sedation of anxiolysis normally involves the inhalation of nitrous oxide. This gas, also called “laughing gas,” relieves anxiety and promotes an overall happy feeling. Moderate sedation is normally delivered using a pill that is taken orally. The pill will diminish the patient’s senses. That is, the patient can breathe normally, but his or her awareness of sound and pain are extremely low. Deep sedation is performed intravenously. It is akin to having general anesthesia. Except in the case of oral surgery, dentists rarely use deep sedation.

Dental Sedation Results

With sedation dentistry, a patient will feel that the dental visit lasted only for a few minutes, even if it took several hours. However, if it is the patient’s first time undergoing sedation, it is recommended that the patient be very observant about his or her feelings. Some sedative drugs will have side effects. Even in the case of mild sedation, a responsible person must accompany a patient. This person is entrusted with the tasks of driving home the patient and waiting until the effects of the sedative drug fade.