HomePatient CareSedation Dentistry: Can You Really Relax in the Dentist’s Chair?
Sedation Dentistry: Can You Really Relax in the Dentist’s Chair?
by Dr Richard Barry
Sitting in the dentist’s chair can be a nerve wracking experience for some people. Whether you feel slightly tense or extremely anxious, you could be one of many people who feel worried, or have “dentist phobia”, when going to a dental appointment.
Take a deep breath, because there is a solution!
Anyone can feel jittery when headed to a dental or medical appointment. If patients cannot sit still in a dentist’s chair due to nerves or feel like they are fidgeting, among other worries, they might feel apprehensive to come to the dentist. But it is very important to attend 6-month biannual dental appointments to clean your teeth, check for cavities, assess dental health, and more.
Luckily, sedation dentistry is a well-established solution that can help ease an anxious patient’s nerves. So can you relax in the dentist’s chair? Read on to find out.
What Is Sedation Dentistry?
Sedation dentistry is a practice in dentistry where a patient can undergo mild, moderate, or strong sedation during dental procedures. Sedation is available to be administered via oral or inhaled (such as nitrous oxide, laughing gas) methods. These methods do not require the use of needles if the patient has a phobia of needles. If the patient can tolerate needles, other forms of sedation dentistry utilizes intravenous (IV) administration to deliver sedatives.
For patients who have anxiety, sedation dentistry offers a more comfortable experience at the dentist. This advancement allows a patient to foster healthy habits and prioritize tooth cleaning and care.
Sedation dentistry is a temporary state, partially or fully sedating the patient throughout a long or uncomfortable procedure. In some cases, a patient can drive home after becoming awake and alert following sedation. In other cases, it is recommended that the patient has a friend or family member drive them home.
All of these sedation techniques are often paired with a local anesthetic, or pain control. The sedatives do not stop or limit pain, but provide relaxation and help quiet negative thoughts. In combination with pain control, sedation dentistry can make any visit a pleasant experience.
Types of Sedation Dentistry Available
There are many types of sedation available in this field. Patients are invited to learn about each option and discuss their favorite options with their care provider.
Mild or Moderate Sedation
Can be delivered via a face mask, as “inhaled” sedation. This form typically wears off quickly, but it offers anxiety relief during the procedure.
Can be delivered orally as a tablet or pill. The patient will not be fully asleep and can arouse. This method also tends to help a patient feel calm and relaxed.
If a patient is moderately sedated, he or she might not remember the procedure after waking up, which some patients view as a benefit. Oxygen is available, vital signs are monitored, and reversal agents are available for sedation dentistry.
Typically delivered through an intravenous (IV) method. It is monitored by a licensed anesthesiologist. It’s offered for time-consuming procedures, under circumstances where deeper sedation and being nearly “asleep” is beneficial.
Deep sedation will help a patient be nearly fully unconscious. It requires a dentist to have qualified training. Dentists should have oxygen and reversal agent drugs available for deep sedation.
General anesthesia will induce a sleep-like state, allowing a patient to be fully unconscious during a procedure. General anesthesia requires a dentist to have qualified training. Dentists should have oxygen and reversal agent drugs available for general anesthesia. There are some contraindicating factors to general anesthesia, such as certain medications, sleep apnea, and obesity, so it is important to inform your dentist and anesthesiologist of your full medical history.
Benefits of Sedation Dentistry
Sedation dentistry exists to provide our patients with an extremely positive and relaxing experience. At Lifetime Dental Health in Columbus, OH, all of our patients’ wellbeing and enjoyment is our priority. Healthcare and dentistry should be an enjoyable experience, even if there is some anxiety involved.
By offering sedation dentistry at our practice, our team hopes to make dental procedures more comfortable. This article is intended to inform and educate patients about their options.
While you might have already thought about some benefits of sedation dentistry, the commonly associated benefits may include:
Relieving feelings of anxiety or fear, including “dental phobia”
Allowing the patient to relax in the dentist’s chair
Easing discomfort if the patient has a strong gag reflex
Feeling like a procedure only lasted a few minutes or took no time at all
Thinking that a procedure was not as bad as it seemed like it would be
Helping a patient feel more relaxed if the patient has sensitive teeth or sensitive senses, such as sensitivity to noises, lights, or touch
Relaxing a patient who is highly sensitive to pain, and just the thought of a painful procedure causes stress
Assisting a patient who must undergo multiple or time-consuming procedures
A patient who is pregnant or allergic to sedatives should not undergo sedation dentistry. Other health conditions might restrict or limit a patient’s ability to obtain sedation. These health conditions, benefits, and limitations will be thoroughly discussed between the patient and the dentist when considering sedation dentistry.
Children are sometimes able to undergo sedation dentistry, as well. Because children can be very nervous about going to the dentist, this might be a promising option to ensure that a child obtains dental care in a positive, fearless environment.
Whether an adult or child is interested in sedation dentistry, being interested in this procedure is the first step towards feeling more comfortable in the dentist’s chair.
If you would like to learn more about sedation dentistry, you can do so by contacting our team at Lifetime Dental Health today.