Sedation Dentistry: The Solution to Dental Anxiety

It’s not uncommon to have anxiety when going to the dentist. For some, getting dental work is one of the most intimidating experiences. Some of the main causes include: embarrassment about dental issues, fear of pain, phobia of needles or shots, and earlier traumatic experiences. If you are included in the 15% of Americans that have this issue, you should consider sedation dentistry.

What is Sedation Dentistry?

With sedation dentistry, medication is used to sedate patients to one of four levels. These levels include minimal sedation, moderate sedation, deep sedation, and general anesthesia. The level of sedation will depend on the dental procedure and how intense the patient’s anxiety may be. For minimal sedation, patients are given just enough medication to be relaxed, leaving them able to respond to verbal and physical stimulation. Moderate sedation is for the more tense patients, or those with more complex procedures being performed. At this level, the patient is almost unconscious yet able to respond to stimuli, and may have a little to no memory of the procedure. Deep sedation relaxes a patient to the verge of consciousness while general anesthesia leaves the patient unconscious and unresponsive to stimulation until the anesthesia is reversed or worn off.

What Drugs Are Used For Sedation?

For minimal sedation, an oral or inhaled sedative can be used. The inhaled sedation uses a mixture of oxygen and nitrous oxide, known more commonly as “laughing gas.” Laughing gas is administered by inhaling the mixture through a mask and quickly subsides once removed. With oral sedation, the pill Halcion is given an hour before any procedure and will cause drowsiness. When moderate sedation is desired, a higher dosage of Halcion can be given or IV moderate sedation may be chosen. IV moderate sedation is a method where the sedative is given intravenously. Due to direct injection, IV moderate sedation works faster than oral moderate sedation. Because the dentist can adjust the level of sedation with this method, IV moderate sedation can also be used for deep sedation. In addition to receiving drugs for sedation, it may be necessary to use a local anesthetic to numb the area where dental work will be performed.

Is Sedation Dentistry Safe?

As with any type of anesthesia or sedation, there are risks. Patients with sleep apnea and those with weight issues have the highest risk in developing complications. Since most risks are due to a patient’s health issues, it is advised to speak with your medical doctor, and / or dentist, to determine the safest option. For more information on sedation dentistry, or to schedule a consultation with our experienced Charlotte Cosmetic dentistry, click here.