Sedation Dentistry 101: What to Expect?

Anxiety is a common symptom when visiting any health professional. Sedation is helpful, but there are plenty of questions to ask before going under. Gaining an understanding of sedation dentistry is a viable solution for clients that understand its effectiveness.

What is Sedation Dentistry?

Sedation dentistry at Bridgewater family dental uses medication to take away the pain from complex procedures. The medication ranges from numbing to completely putting the patient under for the entire procedure. All forms of sedation dentistry promote relaxation whether the procedure is short and simple or long and involved. Sedation dentistry is often parodied on television or movies when the dentist gives the patient too much laughing gas. This is a far cry from reality as the actual sedation is monitored in real time. When used properly, sedation dentistry protects both the patient and the dentist.

Types of Sedation

There are four main types of sedation used in dental procedures. Each level has a purpose to clarify the strength needed for a specific task. Your dentist will always be upfront about whether you’ll be unconscious or awake during the procedure.

General anesthesia is the most powerful since it puts the patient completely under. You’ll be unconscious during the procedure and will more than likely wake up at its conclusion. General anesthesia is used for serious procedures and requires breathing assistance. For average dental procedures, general anesthesia is not necessary for a successful operation. The benefit of this type of anesthesia is to help with patients that suffer from anxiety. It can also help deal with challenging behavior like twitching that affects the success of an operation.

Minimal sedation is one of the more common types and keeps you completely alert. Relaxation is the point of this type of sedation, and it also has the bonus effect of not affecting verbal communication. A dentist can go through the entire procedure with a fully alert patient. The effects are so small that it can be used on both adults and children.

Moderate sedation and disassociation places the patient in a semi-conscious state. The biggest difference between the two is that disassociation may require assistance with breathing. There is almost a dreamlike state with both of these types, and it isn’t uncommon to wake up without a memory of drifting off. In situations where the dentist needs the attention of the patient, tactile stimulation is used.

Deep sedation puts the patient near unconsciousness, but still doesn’t knock them out like general anesthesia. It’s still important to know the type of deep sedation being offered since it can sometimes be grouped with general anesthesia. Getting clarification is expected, and by no means makes the situation uncomfortable. Understanding the type, strength and duration of sedation should always be a priority before submitting to treatment.

Methods

Needles are usually the first thought when people think of sedation. For dentistry, IV sedation is only required for continuous medication. This is the fastest method since it goes to the vein, but it is also the most uncommon for dental procedures. Moderate to deep sedation can be administered this way, and the continuous drip can be manipulated to get an expected outcome with consciousness.

Oral sedation is the most common in a dentist setting, and makes the most sense for operations that deal primarily with the mouth. Oral sedation takes a while to kick in, and its strongest version provides moderate sedation. Dosages matter, but unlike IV sedation, there is no ‘steering the ship’ while the patient is under. Everyone has a different response to oral sedation, so what makes one person numb and groggy has the potential to make another patient unconscious. Dentists use their knowledge and a patient’s past health history to get the right dosage amount. This is why oral sedation is the safest and most common method used in dentistry.

Inhaled sedation falls under the minimal sedation category. This is where the laughing gas myths come from, as the combination of oxygen and nitrous oxide puts the patient on cloud nine. Inhaled sedation levels can be controlled like IV sedation, but doesn’t have the same lasting effects. It works quickly, but wears off within minutes after the last dosage. For patients that are sensitive to certain types of sedation, this is a good alternative to keep them from getting sick.

Paperwork

There are a ton of benefits when your paperwork is up to date. But there are risks when your dentist is left in the dark about your health history. It’s important to have all of your paperwork in order before going through sedation dentistry. This alerts professionals to any allergies or health warning signs that can conflict with the procedure. Don’t just sign the consent forms, read them over and ask questions.

Key questions that always deserve up to date answers are whether you’re pregnant or taking certain medications. If the answer to the question changes leading up to the appointment, inform your dentist so they can make arrangements. This can cause changes to the type of sedation, as well as the duration allowed during the procedure. In worst case scenarios, no sedation will be allowed during the procedure. Your health matters, and taking unnecessary risks is never an option.

Follow Instructions

A dentist provides specific instructions prior to sedation. Pay close attention to the details and don’t skim through it all. The most famously broken rule for sedation is no food or drink after midnight. Some patients try to get away with a little nibble and end up regretting it later. Breaking the no food or drink rule can lead to vomiting or more serious long-term conditions. Dentists don’t provide generic instructions for all of their patients to follow. Each set of instructions is carefully made for the benefit of an individual patient. Every patient gets their own set of rules, and it is their responsibility to follow instructions.

Room To Grow

Sedation dentistry is a fantastic way to calm a patient. Whether conscious or unconscious, it helps a dentist get the job done without any distractions. With sedation, pain and discomfort during a procedure becomes a thing of the past. 

Categories: Health

Nicolas Desjardins

Hello everyone, I am the main writer for SIND Canada. I've been writing articles for more than 10 years and I like sharing my knowledge. I'm currently writing for many websites and newspapers. All my ideas come from my very active lifestyle, every day I ask myself hundreds of questions to doctors, specialists, and physicians. I always keep myself very informed to give you the best information. In all my years as a computer scientist made me become an incredible researcher. I believe that any information should be free, we want to know more every day because we learn every day. Most of our medical sources come from Canada.ca and government research. You can contact me on our forum or by email at info@sind.ca.

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