Many people experience anxiety about undergoing dental work or even visiting the dentist at all, a fear known as dental phobia. This can keep them from seeking proper dental care and may be compromising their dental health. Relief for patients with dental phobia is now available through sedation dentistry available at Dr. Glasser’s office.
WHAT IS SEDATION DENTISTRY?
Sedation dentistry involves the use of medication to provide a relaxing and anxiety-free experience for people undergoing dental treatment. Sedation allows people to feel more comfortable undergoing complex and lengthy procedures. Although sometimes referred to as “sleep dentistry,” most patients remain awake after taking sedation medication and experience a sleepy feeling, but cannot remember anything about the procedure afterwards. There are several different methods available to achieve varying degrees of sedation, all depending on the type of procedure and preference of the patient.
SEDATION VS. ANESTHESIA
Although sedation produces a relaxed state, it does not produce the same effect as anesthesia, which is used for most dental procedures. Patients will still require local anesthesia through injection to help reduce the pain of the procedure. Sedation simply helps relieve the nerves and anxiety that often accompany seeing a dentist. Dr. Glasser usually injects the anesthesia after the patient is sedated to reduce anxiety about the actual injection.
Benefits of sedation dentistry
Many patients are uneasy at just the thought of undergoing dental work. Sedation allows these patients to gain a sense of comfort about the often complex and lengthy dental procedures they are about to undergo. It may also influence some patients to undergo elective procedures that they may have been apprehensive about before. Sedation dentistry lets patients feel as though their lengthy procedures last for only a few minutes.
Patients that benefit from sedation dentistry include those who:
- Have a low pain threshold
- Have sensitive teeth
- Trouble sitting still in the dentist’s chair
- Have a bad gag reflex
- Need a large amount of dental work done
Types of Sedation
Sedation can be administered through several different methods, depending on the overall health and level of relaxation required by the patient. Dr. Glasser use nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, to help most patients achieve the relaxed sensation they desire. This is done by placing a mask over the nose that lets the patient breathe in the gas. The sedated feelings begin anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes after inhaling. Numbness throughout the cheeks and gums also begins quickly. Other methods for sedation include orally or intravenously. Dr. Glasser will work with each patient to determine which type of sedation is best for them.
Depending on a patient’s anxiety levels, different degrees of sedation may be required. These varying degrees include:
Dr. Glasser commonly uses conscious sedation, a state that lets patients feel relaxed but also remain awake and able to respond to commands. You will not remember most of the procedure with this sedation.
Patients with more anxiety may feel more comfortable with deep sedation, which provides a state somewhere between consciousness and unconsciousness. In this state, patients cannot respond to commands and may need breathing assistance.
Unconsciousness is also occasionally used but requires general anesthesia and brings about added risks. This is usually only used for oral surgery.
Risks of sedation dentistry
Although the risk of using sedation is low, mild side effects can occur. Some patients may experience nausea, drowsiness or lightheadedness. Sedation is not recommended for patients who are claustrophobic, have a blocked nasal passage, are obese or have obstructive sleep apnea. Because of potential side effects and the length of sedation, you may need someone to drive you home once your procedure is complete.
It is important to discuss the individual risks of sedation dentistry with Dr. Glasser, who can help you decide if you can benefit from this technique.