Does the thought of visiting a dentist send chills down your entire body? Would you rather bear the pain of a toothache than make an appointment at a nearby dental clinic? Do not worry; you are not alone. Plenty of people, across the globe, are so afraid of going to a dentist that they prefer not to have a dental treatment, altogether.
For all those people who afraid of dentists, or to be more precise – various dental treatments, sedation dentistry may help. Sedation dentistry can take away most of their anxiety. Dentists, through sedation dentistry, can perform everything from a simple tooth cleaning to various invasive cosmetic or general dental procedures. How a dentist is going to utilize sedation, entirely depend upon the level of the patient’s phobia.
What’s Sedation Dentistry?
Sedation dentistry is nothing but a dental practice, which uses medications (sedatives) to help patients release anxiety and stay relaxed during dental procedures. People often refer sedation dentistry as “sleep dentistry”, although, sedation dentistry and sleep dentistry both are different, altogether. Under sleep dentistry, patients doze off during the entire dental treatment. Under sedation dentistry, on the other hand, patients are usually awake during the entire treatment. Patients, however, do fall asleep under sedation dentistry, if a dentist puts them under general anesthesia.
A dentist may administer sedation in different levels based on the severity of your fear. The different levels of sedation are as follows:
- Minimal sedation: When your dentist puts you under minimal sedation, you will stay awake, but will be in a relaxed state.
- Moderate sedation: When you are under moderate sedation, you will be in a state where you may speak your words incoherently. Of course, you will be relaxed and won’t remember much about the procedure.
- Deep sedation: Under deep sedation, you will be on the brink of consciousness, but you can still be woken up with a gentle nudge.
- General anesthesia: When your dentist administers you with general anesthesia, you will be completely unconscious. You will also not remember anything about the procedure.
Different Types of Sedation
There are four different types of sedation or modes of sedation used during sedation dentistry. They are as follows:
- Inhale sedation: With such a mode of sedation, you will breathe nitrous oxide (N2O or laughing gas), along with oxygen through a mask placed over your nose. This gas helps you to relax. It falls under the “minimum” sedation level, whereby you will stay awake but relaxed. Qualified dentists can regulate the amount of sedation (the N2O) you receive. The benefit of this type of sedation is that the N2O wears off pretty quickly. This means that, after the procedure, you will be able to drive home by yourself.
- Oral sedation: This type of sedation falls in the range of “minimal” to “moderate” sedation level. The sedation level depends upon the dosage. For minimal sedation, your dentist will make you take a tablet an hour or two before the procedure. The tablet will make you feel drowsy, but you will still be awake. For moderate sedation, your dentist may give you a large dose of medication. With moderate oral sedation, some people become bleary that they may in fact fall asleep during the dental procedure. They can, however, be awakened easily with a gentle nudge.
- IV sedation: It falls under the “moderate” sedation level. With IV (intravenous) sedation, you will receive the sedative medication through your vein via a needle. Because you receive the sedative medication through your vein, it will work very quickly. With sedation dentistry, your dentist will continually monitor you and regulate the level of sedation as per the requirement. IV sedation dentistry will enable you to relax during the entire procedure. Further, you will stay awake during the entire procedure and will not remember much about the procedure. With IV sedation, it is advised that you bring someone along who can drive you back to your home.
- General anesthesia: It falls under the “deep” sedation category. Your dentist will give you a drug that will make you almost unconscious or completely unconscious during the dental procedure. When you are under general anesthesia, you cannot be woken up easily until its effects wear off; however, with some medication, your dentist can reverse the effects of the anesthesia.
Regardless the type of sedation, you may receive, you can rest assure that you will feel no pain during the dental treatment. It is your dentist, however, who decides which type of sedation you will require. If the dental problem is not too severe, your dentist will give you “minimum” level, N2O or oral sedation. If the problem is severe, he or she will give you “moderate” or “deep” level sedation like IV sedation or general anesthesia.
If you have dental phobia, it is wise to opt for sedation dentistry rather than endure oral pain. Such dentistry lessens your anxiety and makes you relaxed during the entire procedure. Further, with some sedation dentistry, you won’t feel any pain or remember anything about the procedure.
A word of caution:
When you choose to go for sedation dental treatment, especially N2O or IV sedation, be sure to find out about the dentist’s qualification and license. This is vital because not all dentists are permitted to administer N2O or IV sedation. The same thing applies for dentists who use general anesthesia. Only qualified and licensed dentists can administer “moderate” to “deep” level sedation.