Despite being endorsed by the American Dental Association and commonly used in dental practices across the country, a surprising number of patients have not yet heard of sedation dentistry.
Sedation dentistry involves the use of sedative medication to calm and relax a patient so that they can tolerate a dental appointment. This can be anything from a standard dental check-up with no treatment to a highly invasive dental procedure. Since no two patients are the same and can have very different reactions and responses to dental fear, the amount of sedation that is necessary is tailored to the individual. While one patient may need moderate sedation to sit through a basic check-up, another may only need light sedation to be able to tolerate an extraction. For this reason, patients must attend a consultation ahead of their appointment where we will determine the level of sedation required. It is important to add that sedation is given in addition to anesthetic where pain prevention is required.
There are varying types of sedation, each offering a different depth of loss of awareness. These are as follows.
Usually given as nitrous oxide, better known as laughing gas, administered via a mask placed over the nose. Patients feel calm, relaxed and sometimes experience euphoria.
Taken in the form of a tablet around an hour before your appointment. Patients who are moderately sedated feel calm and are able to remain still. They have very little awareness of what is happening around them.
Administered intravenously, deep sedation puts patients right at the edge of unconsciousness. You will have no awareness of what is happening around you and no memory of your procedure.
Sedation dentistry is primarily sought by patients who have a fear of the dentist. Although it is a cliché, anxiety about dental treatment is more common than you might think, with studies estimating that around 75% of American adults having some trepidation about dental appointments, and of those, as many as 10% having such fear that they can be characterized as having dental phobia.
Dental phobia manifests as a range of different symptoms, with some of the most common including:
Rapid heart rate
Feeling faint and dizzy
Unfortunately, many patients who have dental phobia simply refuse to visit their dentist even for check-ups. If they do manage to attend an assessment and are told that they need to have treatment, they may avoid booking it or not turn up to their appointments.
Unsurprisingly, patients with dental phobia quickly find that their dental health suffers, with decay and gum disease becoming significant problems. This means pain, suffering and potentially further problems caused by their poor oral health. Studies have shown patients that develop advanced gum disease are also more likely to go on to develop chronic health conditions that include diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, Alzheimer’s and even some cancers. The good news is that sedation dentistry makes it possible for even the most fearful patient to receive the dental care that they deserve.
Sedation dentistry is also an extremely valuable tool for patients who have disabilities that may otherwise be unable to tolerate a dental appointment. This includes patients with both physical and cognitive problems such as:
Holding their mouth open
Coping with the sights, sounds
If you or a loved one has a disability that would normally affect your ability to undergo routine dental appointments, sedation dentistry may be able to help.
If you are fearful of visiting the dentist and your oral health is suffering, or if you or a loved one has a disability that makes tolerating dental appointments impossible, sedation dentistry can help. For more information on sedation dentistry and how it can benefit you and your family, please contact our dental offices in Corpus Christi, TX today.