Sedation Dentistry

Does the thought of certain cosmetic or general dental procedures make you anxious, fearful, or tense? If so, then you likely suffer from dental phobia or dental anxiety, which prevents many people from undergoing the treatments they need to keep their gums, mouth, and teeth healthy.

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What is sedation dentistry?

Sedation dentistry typically describes an approach that uses medication to help patients completely relax during dental procedures.

If small procedures like teeth cleaning make you nervous, we understand you might struggle with more invasive, “scarier” procedures like dental implant placement.

For these bigger, more complex treatments, typical relaxation techniques might not be so effective – especially for the procedures carried out under local anaesthetic. At The Perfect Smile Studios, we can help you face this barrier to receiving life-changing dental treatments using sedation dentistry.

Sometimes referred to as “sleep dentistry,” the process involves the patient being fully conscious the entire time but in a deeply relaxed state that might cause them to dose off during their procedure.

Types of sedation we use in dentistry:

  • Minimal sedation (inhaled): Patients breathe nitrous oxide (laughing gas) combined with oxygen through a mask placed over their nose. The gas helps patients to relax – and the dentist controls the amount of sedation they receive. The gas effects wear off quickly and is the only form of sedation where patients are permitted to drive themselves home.
  • Oral sedation: Depending on your given dose, oral sedation can range from minimal to moderate. For moderate cases, patients will take a pill, typically Halcion, taken an hour before the procedure. Patients can expect to feel drowsy but still awake. Patients given a moderate sedation dose will be awake but groggy enough to fall asleep during their procedures. However, it will only take a gentle shake to wake you up.
  • Intravenous sedation: The sedative drug is administered through a vein so the effects can be felt much more quickly. Using this method, the dentist will be able to adjust the level of sedation continually.
  • Deep sedation and general anaesthesia: Medication is provided to make the patient almost unconscious or unconscious (deeply asleep). Under general anaesthesia, patients cannot be awakened until the effects wear off or are reversed with other medication.

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The different levels of sedation dentistry

There are varying degrees and levels of IV sedation, which include:

  • Minimal sedation: You’ll remain awake and be able to participate in your treatment by responding to questions.
  • Moderate sedation: This conscious sedation will mean patients won’t remember much about the procedure and might slightly slur their words when speaking.
  • Deep sedation: You’ll be on the edge of consciousness but can be awakened and stirred.
  • General anaesthesia: Completely unconscious during the procedure.

Who is welcome to have sedation dentistry?

Sedation is only appropriate for patients with a real, intense fear or anxiety which prevents them from going to the dentist or undergoing certain procedures.

Sedation dentistry is also applicable to people who:

  • Need a considerable amount of dental work completed.
  • Have ultra-sensitive teeth.
  • Unable to sit still and comfortably in a dental chair.
  • Have a low pain threshold.
  • Have a bad gag reflex.

Typically, children are given sedation dentistry when terrified of going to the dentist and are often uncooperative during their visits.

However, IV sedation can be particularly helpful for patients undergoing complex implant treatments who have an existing fear of the dentist.

IV sedation, here, makes the procedure more comfortable and pain-free and allows the patient to relax during what they perceive to be a very scary appointment.

Any dentist and sedation

With various sedatives available, only a few are approved for dentists to administer. For example, minimal sedation like nitrous oxide or pills can be administered, whereas only a small percentage can offer IV sedation.

Dentists like oral and maxillofacial surgeons and dental anaesthesiologists have undergone programmes and courses to be certified in the safe use of sedation.

Some dental practices can offer moderate to deep sedation on-site, but with few and far between, they can be difficult to track down. If this is the case, ask your dentist for a referral.

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