Many people postpone necessary dental treatment because of anxiety and fear. Some of these people live with unnecessary pain and tolerate their neglected teeth just to avoid the negative emotions they associate with dental visits. Fortunately, anyone who experiences dental anxiety can benefit from sedation dentistry.
A sedation dentist uses gas, oral medication, IV medications or general anesthesia to eliminate the pain and fear their patients have when facing dental treatment. Sometimes referred to as “sleep dentistry”, there are several methods and levels of dental sedation.
Types of Sedation
- Inhaled sedation-“laughing gas”
- Oral sedation – a pill taken an hour before treatment
- Intravenous sedation – allows the dentist to continually adjust sedation levels
- General Anesthesia – usually a combination of gas and IV medication
- With minimal sedation, the patient is awake, but relaxed.
- With moderate sedation, the patient does not remember much of what happened.
- Deep sedation keeps the patient just at the edge of consciousness, but the patient can still be awakened.
- With general anesthesia, the patient is unconscious until the medication wears off, or until the effects are reversed with another medication.
Sleep dentistry can be useful for all dental treatments, from cleanings to invasive procedures, depending on the needs of each patient. There are several benefits to sleep dentistry.
Eliminates Fear and Stress
With the option of sedation, dental patients are relieved of the stress and anxiety they associate with dental visits. The option of sedation offers a more relaxed experience and makes treatment easier. Patients may be less likely to postpone their dental treatment knowing they have the option of sedation.
Increases Comfort Levels
Some patients have strong gag reflexes; other patients are uncomfortable holding their mouths open for too long. With sleep dentistry, these patients can expect their visits to be much more comfortable. Patients are more confident about their treatment if they do not need to fear gagging or jaw pain.
Little Memory of Treatment
When a patient is sedated for their dental treatment, they will have little memory of the details of their experience. A lengthy dental visit can feel like it only lasted minutes. Even multiple extractions and oral surgery will not result in anxiety-provoking memories.
Can Save Money
When using sedation, dentists may be able to perform multiple treatments in a single visit. Reducing the number of office visits can reduce treatment fees.
Dentists Can Work Quickly
When patients are relaxed and comfortable, dentists can complete their work efficiently. Dentists can focus on the task without their patients s getting fidgety or nervous. When a patient is sedated, the dentist does not have to be concerned about their patient’s reactions to the sounds and sensations of their treatment.
Many patients get the dental care they need with the help of sedation dentistry. Dental sedation is beneficial for patients who are fearful or anxious about dental work. It is also beneficial for anyone who has a low pain threshold, sensitive teeth, a severe gag reflex or for those who need extensive dental work completed.
Sedation dentistry minimizes fear and anxiety, eliminates pain and can possibly reduce the number of office visits necessary to restore a healthy smile.
Christopher is an author, blogger, and musician from Wichita, KS who has been terrified of dentists most of his life until he discovered sedation dentistry.