The thought of sitting in a dentist’s chair has filled many with terror. The fear often starts as a child. Sedation dentistry promises that it allows anxious patients to spend a dental visit relaxed and unaware of the unpleasant procedures taking place.
Dental phobia is common, and it can prevent people from getting needed care. It’s like a fear of heights: There’s no rationale for the fear, so you can’t just tell people not to worry. Different degrees of sedation can leave the patient merely relaxed or pushed to the edge of consciousness.
Sedation is usually achieved using a variety of techniques, to help patients relax before and during their dental procedures so that they come away feeling more at ease with the notion of in-office oral care.
Oral sedation is safe and it’s a good choice for a phobic patient who needs extensive work that will require multiple hours in the dentist’s chair. Oral and intravenous sedation are two options that are more commonly used.
Though both types of sedation are generally safe when properly used, intravenous sedation has a greater effect on breathing and requires more training on the dentist’s part.
Before you agree to sedation, make sure you understand what drugs you’ll be given and what their side effects and risks are. Ask how your vital signs will be monitored while you’re sedated and who will be doing the monitoring.
Before giving you any kind of anesthesia or sedative drugs, the clinician should take a complete medical history. Especially important are such questions as: Do you have a history of heart disease? What surgical procedures have you had previously? Do you have any allergies? If you’re not asked any of those questions, that’s a red flag.
A consultation should be scheduled before the sedation visit to collect a medical history, discuss which procedures will be done and obtain consent for the treatment plan.
Some health issues, such as heart problems, lung disease and obstructive sleep apnea, can make sedation more risky. Also, the low blood pressure that can occur with sedation may increase the risk of heart attack or stroke in people who are already vulnerable.
Sedation dentistry is generally safe for kids, but you should ask lots of questions before allowing a dentist to sedate your child. The AAPD and the American Academy of Pediatrics have a joint set of guidelines for sedation in children, and you will want to make sure your dentist is familiar with them.
Regardless of the type of sedation you get, it will take some time for your body to return to normal. You’ll need someone to take you home after the visit, and you should plan to take the rest of the day off from work.
For more information on sedation dentistry, contact Today’s Dental of Boxborough.