Routine dental appointments are central to good oral health, but some patients have such reservations about seeing the dentist that they avoid the dental office at all costs. Unfortunately, this fear may lead them to postpone treatment until an emergency arises and requires immediate intervention.
Our practice wants to help all of our patients access the dental care they need, so we offer sedation dentistry to improve patients’ experiences. Sedation can help these patients achieve a state of deep relaxation to overcome their fears about dental treatments.
Sedation dentistry generally involves drugs from a class of anti-anxiety medications known as benzodiazepines. This approach is sometimes called “sleep dentistry,” although that moniker is misleading because patients actually remain conscious the entire time they are under sedation.
In fact, one of sedation’s advantages, in comparison to general anesthesia, is that patients are able to respond to the dentist’s commands. Additionally, the airway remains open under sedation, in contrast to general anesthesia, which requires artificial maintenance of the airway.
Sedation can help patients achieve a state of deep relaxation to overcome their fears about dental treatments.
Patients who are facing lengthy treatments involving multiple procedures may also want to take advantage of sedation, which will allow them to spend longer amounts of time in the dentist’s chair. Sedation can help you get a brand-new smile in fewer appointments.
The sedative medications can be administered in different ways. Some patients prefer intravenous sedation, which takes effect nearly instantly. Others are skittish of needles and would rather take the medications orally.
Sedation dentistry does require some advance planning on the patient’s part. IV sedation may warrant fasting for several hours in advance of the appointment. Patients who choose sedation also need to arrange for an escort home from the office, as they will not be alert enough to drive.
If you avoid the dentist, or if you need to undergo a complex, time-intensive procedure, sedation may be an important component of your treatment plan. Ask your dentist if you can take advantage of all of the benefits that sedation dentistry has to offer.