A sedation dentist is a dental professional who has undergone specialized training in order to administer sedative drugs to patients during dental procedures. Sedation dentistry can be the best option for patients who have difficulty with standard dental care. With the use of sedatives, patients who are fearful of dental procedures or have a low tolerance for the experiences or pain associated with dental care can be treated comfortably, often without pain or any memory of the procedure after it has been completed, feeling as if they have slept through their dentist visit.
Why a Sedation Dentist?
Dental anxiety is a very common problem. For many people, a routine visit to the dentist’s office is a traumatic experience. A dental problem is the source of dread and anxiety for these people, knowing that they will have to make that appointment and face one of their biggest fears. For this reason, many put off routine visits and oral health suffers. Problems that might have been caught early and rectified with a simple filling develop into larger issues that require extensive dental work, reinforcing their fear of the dental chair. For these patients, sedation can make getting their teeth cared for a much more bearable experience, making routine dental care possible.
A significant number of people don’t respond well to the local anesthetics typically used in dental work. While those medications block pain for most, patients who are resistant to them may still feel pain and discomfort after multiple applications. For patients that aren’t responsive to the numbing effects of these medications, dental procedures can be a painful and unpleasant experience. In fact, trouble getting numb is often at the root of dental anxiety. A sedation dentist can treat these patients with more powerful drugs to to address that pain and anxiety, making dental care much more comfortable.
An over-active gag reflex is an issue that makes dental care very difficult and unpleasant for some patients and is a frequent cause of dental anxiety. This can cause the patient to begin gagging or have an overwhelming feeling that he may vomit when dental procedures are being done. Sedation dentistry can help suppress that hyper-active gag reflex in many patients, making dental work less traumatic.
Sedation dentistry is also commonly used for patients that need a lot of work or complex dental procedures. The use of sedatives can allow these procedures to be accomplished in a single session, rather than being broken up into several for comfort. For the patient who is in a lot of pain or has limited time for dental work, this can be a very valuable option.
Other issues that can make a sedation dentist a good option for some people include extremely sensitive teeth, an aversion to the sounds and smells in the dental office, fear of the drill or of the needles used for numbing. Any or all of these can contribute to dental anxiety and the avoidance of necessary dental care, and can often be addressed by a sedation dentist experienced in dealing with these types of special needs.
Conscious Sedation Dentistry
Conscious sedation is the technique most often used in patients who need more aggressive treatment of their pain and anxiety than local anesthesia can provide. Commonly used sedation methods include oral sedation, using a sedative drug taken by mouth, inhalation sedation, using a mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen inhaled as a gas, intravenous sedation, in which a sedative is given by IV drip, and intramuscular injection, where the sedative is injected into the muscle of the upper arm or thigh.
Although most patients with dental anxiety can be treated with conscious sedation, in a small percentage of people, general anesthesia may be necessary. This is an option that may be used in patients that have extreme anxiety or dental phobia that may otherwise lead to panic attacks or other emergency situations.
In order for a dental professional to be certified as a sedation dentist, he or she must undergo advanced training and meet qualification standards set by their state’s Board of Dental Examiners. When sedatives are administered by IV or injection, monitoring equipment is used to keep track of heart rate, blood pressure and breathing for safety. Should a sedation dentist need to use general anesthesia, a professional anesthesiologist is brought in to ensure the safety of the patient throughout the procedure.
If you are one the many people who find dental work a very stressful experience, putting off dental treatment until you have a painful, crisis situation on your hands, perhaps sedation dentistry is an option you should consider. Dental health is important. Of course, you surely know that there is pain and embarrassment involved with living with bad teeth or gum disease. However, what many people don’t know is that dental problems that are left untreated can have some very serious affects on overall health. For example, studies have shown an association between poor oral health and cardiovascular disease, such as atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, which can lead to heart attack or stroke. So if you have dental issues that you’ve neglected due to dental anxiety, find a good sedation dentist in your area and get that dental work done.