Statistics suggest that nearly three quarters of adults in the United States of America have some type of fear of the dentist, whether it be fairly mild or quite severe. To help deal with this very common anxiety, emergency dentistry practices have been figuring out ways to move forward with needed dental procedures while not exacerbating patient’s fears. One of the most common ways to do this, is through sedation. From a dental perspective, there are a few types of sedation that can be used.
Sedation allows dentists to achieve a lot of work at once, which is great for patients who need multiple procedures done. In addition, sedation dentistry also causes a fair amount of amnesia, so generally the patients do not remember much of anything, which is helpful in managing their anxiety about undergoing the procedures.
Dentists like this because their patients are still and calm and can be so for multiple hours if necessary. This also allows dentists to get a lot of work done in a shorter amount of time because they do not have to pause frequently to deal with a patient’s anxiety.
Regular sedation such as nitrous oxide is administered by breathing it in, usually through a face mask or tube. Often referred to as “laughing gas”, nitrous oxide helps patients feel calm, loose and relaxed so they can deal with their dental procedures.┬áThis is a great option for someone who has only a mild fear of the dentist.
The next option is oral sedation, which revolves around taking a pill or sedative about 45 minutes to an hour before your appointment. It takes a little while to get in your system and can last anywhere from about two to six hours. This is much longer than the nitrous oxide in regular sedation, which can leave your system in about 5 minutes. This is a better option for someone with a mild to moderate dental fear who has tried nitrous oxide before and perhaps wants something a little stronger. It is also┬á good for a patient who simply worries that the nitrous oxide will not work and wants a more foolproof option.
Often times these two practices will be combined, with the patient taking an oral sedative prior to the appointment and then supplementing that with nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, upon arrival. This will help get patients in the most controlled state possible.
Oral sedation, however, will not always work for people with problems with sleep apnea or snoring. Because of this, it is important for a dentist and patient to go over the patient’s medical history thoroughly before deciding on a course of action for dental sedation.
For patients with extreme dental fear, there is also a form of sedation dental practice called IV sedation, which is the fastest and strongest method. Sedation facilitated by IV or, intravenously, works instantly.This is commonly used for procedures that might cause pain such as extractions like wisdom tooth removals, root canals or other more in-depth procedures. These types of procedures also generally last longer than other types of procedures and thus the sedation needs to be closely monitored and managed.