According to the Dental Organization for Conscious Sedation, 30 percent of the population avoids visiting the dentist due to fear. A condition known as “dental phobia,” this all-too-common fear prevents people from receiving necessary, routine dental care, potentially compromising their oral health.
The good news is that more and more people are now able to receive necessary dental care thanks to sedation dentistry. Sedation is a process administered by a trained dentist to establish a calm, relaxed state through the use of sedatives, enabling fearful patients to follow through with their dental procedures and maintain better oral health as a result.
Types of Sedation
Sedatives can be administered by a trained dental professional in a variety of ways. These include:
Oral sedation is a popular method used to establish relaxation. A sedative pill is taken by the mouth and requires no needles, which makes this method easy to administer. Oral sedatives create a comfortable, relaxed experience for patients—helping them reach a sleep-like state—while allowing them to maintain a level of consciousness for safety and cooperation.
Also known as nitrous oxide sedation, inhalation sedation is one of the most widely used dental sedation techniques. Nitrous oxide is administered through a mask, and as the patient inhales the sedative, it causes a euphoric effect, which calms and relaxes the patient within moments. This method is often considered the safest option for light to mild sedation and short, routine dental procedures.
IV (intravenous) sedation is delivered via injection to sedate a fearful patient. It is the most powerful method of conscious sedation for management of more severe levels of dental anxiety or lengthier, extensive dental procedures. The sedatives are administered directly into the bloodstream, producing deep relaxation and pain relief.
For lengthy and invasive procedures, such as oral surgeries, general anesthesia may be necessary to provide a deeper level of sedation for the patient. When a patient is given general anesthesia they are completely unconscious throughout the entire procedure. Because the patient is unresponsive and requires breathing assistance, a highly trained anesthesiologist or oral surgeon can only administer general anesthesia.
Are You a Candidate for Sedation?
Not everyone is a suitable candidate for sedation dentistry. People who benefit the most from dental sedatives include those with an intense fear of dental procedures, have a severe gag reflex, suffer from physical limitations or have trouble becoming fully numb following the administration of local anesthetics. If you suffer from severe dental anxiety, don’t put off required dental care any longer. Talk to your [location] dentist about safe, comfortable and relaxing sedation dentistry.