Some people out there haven’t been to the dentist for years, and it might not be just because they’re afraid of the news they’ll get, or the multiple cavities their dentist is sure to find. Some patients are simply afraid of the dental office experience as a whole. The tools, the drilling, the clinical atmosphere, people can have some real negative connotations associated with the dentist. It’s almost as though people forget that an established practice wishes nothing more than to give each patient their own set of pearly whites.

For patients who feel overwhelmed every time they think about sitting back in their dentist’s chair, it might be time to consider sedation dentistry.

What is Sedation Dentistry?

Sedation dentistry is a new option incorporated by many practices which helps reduce patient anxiety. It’s available for all procedures, from a simple teeth cleaning to intricate, invasive procedures.

There are three different levels of sedation dentistry: minimal, moderate, and deep sedation. Deep sedation puts the patient on the edge of consciousness, while moderate sedation will make a patient slur their words and perhaps remember very little of the procedure itself. Mild sedation puts the patient in a state of relaxation while totally awake.

Of course general anesthesia — where the patient is completely unconscious — is still an available option as well.

Types of sedation include:

  • Inhaled minimal sedation with nitrous oxide, or “laughing gas,” which aims to relax the patient. The dentist is able to manipulate how much gas a patient receives. This is the only form of sedation where a patient can theoretically drive home.
  • Oral application (generally with Halcion) resulting in minimal to moderate sedation. Usually taken one hour prior to a dental procedure.
  • Sedation through IV (also called moderate IV sedation). The patient receives a sedative drug via vein, which is quicker to respond than other methods.
  • Deep sedation (including general anesthesia). Medications render patients totally unconscious, in a deep sleep that cannot easily be compromised unless reversed with additional medication.

Generally, patients with a low pain threshold opt for some form of sedation dentistry. Of course patients with a great deal of dental work to be done are more likely to choose some form of sedation dentistry. As technology continues to advance, more and more convenient options will become available to make the process easier on the patient.

Next time you’re at the dentist, if you’re one of those people who truly dreads the experience, you now know that you can make the process a little easier on yourself. In the end, it will likely make the process easier on your dentist, too! Food for thought. For additional information on determining whether sedation dentistry is for you, contact the Burbank, Pasadena, and Glendale dentist at Pacific Dental Care.