Sedation dentistry is a way for people who are afraid of going to the dentist to receive the care that they need. Millions of people suffer from dental phobia, a condition that makes them avoid the dentist out of fear. This phobia compromises their oral health, making them more vulnerable to problems such as cavities and gum disease. In addition, poor dental health can also contribute to developing life-threatening conditions such as heart disease.
Sedation involves the use of drugs to put the patient into a state of conscious relaxation. This enables the patient to go through the procedure without experiencing the fear of pain. In fact, the sedation process helps increase the pain threshold of the patient.
Sedation dentistry is also recommended for patients who are suffering from a condition that makes them unable to control their movements, such as those with Parkinson’s disease. Sedation provides them with temporary relief by putting them into an extremely relaxed state.
Sedation also does not mean that you will be unconscious during the procedure. The patient remains conscious throughout so that he can cooperate with the dentist.
The levels of sedation used range from minimal, in which the patient is relaxed and still awake, to deep sedation, in which the patient is on the edge of consciousness but can still be awakened.
While sedation involves additional costs to the procedure, it can save the patient more money in the long run. A dentist can work on a sedated patient more quickly than on one who is nervous and fidgety. This shortens the time it takes to complete the procedure, reducing the number of visits required.
Being sedated does not involve the use of a syringe, which is another benefit for those who are afraid of needles. Instead, it is applied using the following methods:
A) Inhalation – The dentist puts a mask over your face through which you will breath in a combination of nitrous oxide and oxygen. This type of sedation tends to wear off quickly, so you will constantly need to wear the mask during the procedure, but it also means you can drive home by yourself afterwards.
B) Oral – The patient takes a pill to induce mild to moderate sedation around an hour before the procedure. The sedative can make you groggy enough to fall asleep although you can still be easily awakened.
When stronger sedation is required, however, the doctor may use an IV so that the sedative goes directly into the vein. This method also allows the dentist to adjust how deep the sedation will be.
It should be noted that being sedated does not mean that you will not receive anesthetic. The dentist will still apply local anesthetic to your mouth in order to deaden the sensation in areas that he is working on.