As a sedation dentist, we can reach a large number of patients, that would normally be too afraid to come in and get their teeth worked on. Research shows that anywhere from 5% to 8% of all Americans will never visit the dentist, based on the fear they have of the dentist. Often times this fear comes from a bad experience in the past, but even more frequently it is the fear of being out of control that makes people concerned. While there are certainly many factors that influence a person’s anxiety, none of these should cause you to avoid getting dental work done.
Regardless of why you have anxiety, sedation dentistry has come to the rescue, offering a way to get any procedures done without having to suffer the massive amounts of anxiety that dental fears bring. Sedation dentistry is often referred to as sleep dentistry. However, calling sedation dentistry sleep dentistry is a slight mischaracterization. In most cases, a patient is never asleep. Instead, we focus on ensuring that you are completely at ease and adjusting the level, and type, of anesthesia, to ensure that we meet that goal.
- Mild sedation: This is the most common form of sedation offered to patients that have anxiety issues. Mild sedation is typically administered through inhalation, where a mask is placed over the nose and mouth of the patient, who then breathes normally. The solution used, nitrous oxide, causes the patient to get extremely relaxed. Nitrous oxide is also known as laughing gas and is widely used by sedation dentists to relieve mild to moderate anxiety associated with dental procedures.
- Moderate sedation: Also known as conscious sedation, this is a method chosen for people who do not like the effects of the nitrous oxide and still need to deal with anxiety. Conscious sedation is often administered by a pill, which the patient takes before the procedure. The side effects can include slurred speech from a heavy tongue while recovering from moderate sedation.
- Deep Sedation: This level of sedation is literally one step away from complete sleep, and in fact is a form of light sleep. Despite being in a slight sleep state, the patient can be awakened at any time without any challenges. Deep sedation typically has a slightly longer recovery time associated with it, and most patients are unaware, or moderately aware, of the activities taking place during the procedure.
- General Anesthesia: Used in surgical procedures across the entire spectrum of medicine, general anesthesia is administered through an IV and carefully monitored by an anesthesiologist. This allows us as a sedation dentist, and the anesthesiologist, to adjust the levels of the sedation throughout the procedure. Since you will be completely asleep during the procedures, you will have no recollection of the activities or the procedure and will need a significant amount of time to recover.
Having the option to be sedated gives people a chance to get their dental work taken care of without fear and anxiety. If you are one that suffers from dental fears, let us know so that we can create a plan for administering a level of sedation that can help you to relax.