Going to the dentist isn’t something that any of us relish. Nevertheless, many people avoid visiting their dentist entirely through anxiety and fear. Even if you are experiencing some symptoms that suggest you may have a dental problem, if you are frightened of visiting the dentist you may initially disregard them. In fact, many patients simply refuse to seek help until their pain or the debilitating symptoms they are suffering from are too severe to ignore any longer. Unfortunately, by this point, there can be considerable damage to your dental health and even your wider wellbeing.
While fear of the dentist may be a cliché, the effects that it can have are anything but amusing. Fortunately, it isn’t necessary to let your oral health and hygiene suffer. Sedation dentistry offers even the most fearful patients a way of tolerating everything from basic to invasive dental procedures.
What is sedation dentistry?
Sedation dentistry is used to describe any dental procedure performed on a patient while they are under the effects of sedative medication. Since there are various types of sedative available, the degree of how sedated a patient is during sedation dentistry can vary immensely. The purpose of the medication is to ensure that the patient remains calm, relaxed and compliant during their appointment so that whatever treatment is needed can be performed safely and efficiently.
Light sedation is typically administered via a mask placed over the nose that delivers a continuous supply of nitrous oxide, which is better known as laughing gas. The effects of nitrous oxide only last a few moments beyond your last inhalation of the gas and so it is easily controlled. It induces a state of calm and everything around you may seem a little blurry and confusing. Many people like the effects of nitrous oxide on feeling slightly drunk. However, it is sufficient enough to enable many people to tolerate their dental appointment without fear
If you are particularly nervous about your appointment, or if you need a more invasive treatment, then you may be recommended for moderate sedation. This is usually provided in pill form and is taken around an hour before your appointment. The effects of moderate sedative medications are stronger, causing you a deeper sense of calm relaxation. You may only have a little awareness of what is going on around you. It can take several hours for the effects of the drug to wear off completely, and so you will need to wait a while before you can go home after your appointment and get someone else to drive you.
For patients with deep-rooted fear of the dentist and/or who need very invasive dental treatment, deep sedation may be the best option. This is administered intravenously and will place you just at the point before becoming unconscious. You will have no concept of what is happening around you although you will technically be awake. Like moderate sedation, it will take a while for the effects to wear off and you will need someone to drive you home and stay with you for up to 12 hours.
It is important to note that sedation is different from general anesthetic, which sees patients put to sleep for the duration of their procedure. If we feel that you may need a general anesthetic, we will speak to you about this ahead of your procedure.
Sedation for patients with disabilities
In addition to being a valuable tool for people who suffer from fear of the dentist, sedation also makes it possible for patients with a multitude of physical and cognitive disabilities to undergo necessary dental check-ups and treatments. There can be many ways in which such disabilities affect a person’s ability to tolerate a dental procedure with some of the most common including:
- An inability to understand and/or follow instructions
- Physically being unable to sit still
- Physically being unable to hold their mouth open
- Intolerance of the position they need to sit in for treatment
- Unable to tolerate the sounds/smells of the dental environment (sensory issues)
However, thanks to sedation dentistry, patients with a wide range of disabilities can now receive proper dental care that can help them enjoy better oral health and retain their natural teeth for longer.
If you would like to learn more about sedation dentistry, or if you would like to discuss your candidacy, please contact our office in Clearwater, FL today and speak to one of our reassuring and experienced dentistry team members. Dr. Andrew Holloman and Associated are rated top doctors in the Clearwater Florida area, They are a well-rounded, All-in-one Dental Office and are excited to meet you!