Most people are not fond of dental visits and related processes. The American Dental Association estimates that 22 percent of Americans avoid dental visits because of fear and anxiety. This can increase the probability of tooth loss, serious dental infections, or even oral cancer. Luckily, dentists are now employing dental sedation techniques which are aimed at helping patients get the required dental care without these fears of excruciating pain and other complications.
Sedation dentistry is a highly regulated profession in the United States. This practice is highly regulated in order to prevent any kind of harm to the patient’s health. Sedation dentistry can get a bad rap, but if the procedure is done by a specially trained dental professional, it can be safe and effective for those patients who require it. Ask your local dentist if sedation dentistry is a process they are trained in and what your options are prior to your visit.
Levels of Sedation:
There are four levels of sedation dentistry, and each level involves different types of medication.
- Minimal Sedation
- Moderation Sedation
- Deep Sedation
- General Anesthesia
In general, the dental sedation depresses your body’s central nervous system at different levels so the different procedures can take place with minimal pain. If a patient is getting minimal sedation, their cognitive function and coordination is only mildly impaired throughout the procedure. Their breathing and cardiac functions remain unchanged. This level of sedation, however, is not recommended for those with withdrawal reflexes, who may require higher doses of sedation.
During a moderate level of sedation, the patient can still respond intently to commands by dental staff. They do not need any intervention to keep their airway clear during the procedure, as normal ventilation is adequate for this level of sedation. There is no affect on the patient’s cardiovascular function.
If a patient requires deep sedation, the patient will not able to be aroused easily. They may respond to questions only after painful or repeated stimulation. Because their independent ventilatory function is impaired, they will require assistance in maintaining a clear airway. However, the cardiovascular system of the patient even at this level of sedation is maintained.
Lastly, if a patient requires general anesthesia, they will not be arousable during the procedure. Their ventilatory system is impaired, and will need constant airway monitoring and intervention. The patient will undergo a drug-induced depression of their neurovascular function. The patient may take some time to arouse after the procedure, and the time of recovery differs with each patient.
Pros and Cons of Sedation Dentistry:
Sedation dentistry can be used safely and effectively for those patients that require it. There are several benefits to this type of dentistry:
- Eases patient’s fear and anxiety
- Eases patient’s pain
- Allows for more procedures to be done at one time, reducing the number of total visits needed
- Allows dentists to work on sensitive teeth and/or gums
- Controls the patient’s gag reflex
- Induces amnesia for the patient–time seemingly passes quicker for them
As with any medical procedures, there are some risks to weigh when considering sedation dentistry.
- Sedation dentistry can be dangerous if the dentist/dental staff is not well-trained and/or knowledgeable.
- Sedation dentistry can be expensive, depending on the patient’s insurance level.
- Sedation dentistry is rather controversial on children, exposing children to high levels of potentially harmful drugs.
- Sedation dentistry’s outcome can vary with each patient.
Overall, sedation dentistry is a great alternative for those patient’s needing extra pain management. Provided at different levels, sedation dentistry can help patients manage their pain in a more effective manner. The dental procedures are performed and monitored by specialists who are trained to perform them safely and effectively. As with any medical procedure, consult with your dentist on your sedation options, and address any and all concerns you may have.
Maestri Family Dental in the heart of Lafayette Louisiana is ready to help you achieve your oral health goals with the use of sedation dentistry and answer all questions that you may have. Their specially-trained professionals are ready to ease your mind and provide you with the best, pain-free care possible.