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February 07 2011

Sedation Dentistry Reduces Stress On Dental Patients

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A dentist’s office doesn’t need to be a scary place, but unfortunately, a lot of people postpone or avoid making necessary dental appointments due to a bad childhood experience, fear of needles, or what is known as dental phobia. As everyone knows, routine dental work, which includes teeth cleaning, can prevent much more extensive or painful work on a later date. However, if painful work is required, the stress level can be reduced substantially. Many dentists these days offer sedation dentistry as a way to make those office visits easier on patients.  

Sedation dentistry may be used in a wide variety of dental procedures, from a simple cleaning, to a root canal or extraction. It’s used, not only to limit the actual physical discomfort of the procedure, but also to handle the general phobia that a patient may have. It is a good alternative to get individuals who really fear going into the office for a cleaning or other essential procedures.

You can get four different types of sedation, and each is useful for specific anesthetic and psychological needs.  Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, is a well-known and popular sedative that induces an overall sense of well-being and relaxation in the patient.  Nitrous oxide is considered a light sedative.  Once the person is relaxed, a local anesthetic can be given to limit pain for more intense procedures.  The down side to this sedation is that some people don’t tolerate the gas effectively.

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Oral sedatives, sometimes called sleep dentistry but more accurately termed “conscious sedation,” is now the most widely used approach to reduce anxiety in the dental office. Dentists usually prefer patients to be awake so they are responsive. With this particular method, the patient will feel sleepy through the office visit, but is not going to actually lose consciousness.  The sedative can be given 30 minutes to an hour before a scheduled visit, and can be used with a local anesthetic depending upon the particular procedure being conducted.  

Intravenous (IV) sedation has related effects as oral tranquilizers, in that the individual can remain conscious in a state of deep relaxation through the office visit.  However, the sedative is applied through an IV, and a local anesthetic may also be required to eliminate pain. It is used in the same types of procedures as either nitrous oxide or oral sedatives, but has to be administered by the dentist and checked throughout the procedure.

Deep sedation, in the form of general anesthesia, is also found in some offices. However the patient is not able to communicate with the staff, and may even need assistance with breathing if there are issues keeping their airway open. General anesthesia is reserved for in-depth oral surgery due to the inherent potential complications that could arise using this method.

Whether you are in need of a good cleaning, or are having a more complex procedure, sedation dentistry can help relieve the anxiety of going to the dentist.  Don’t let your anxiety prevent you from having a healthy beautiful smile.

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