What is sedation dentistry?
Sedation dentistry is a term used to describe various techniques that are used to alleviate dental anxiety and improve comfort before and during exams and procedures. This service is an expansion of the pain management most people are familiar with when they need to undergo dental treatment such as a filling or root canal. Certain dental sedation techniques are known to “take the edge off.” With some sedation, patients may not remember their procedure even though they are awake while receiving care.
Benefits of Sedation Dentistry
Sedation dentistry offers a variety of benefits, including:
- Anxiety relief- Sedation reduces the nervous system response so that even the most nervous patients can maintain comfort throughout their procedures.
- Pain relief- The effects of sedatives on the nervous system also diminish the brain’s ability to register pain, making treatment even more comfortable.
- Diminished gag reflex- Sedation relaxes the mind as well as the body.
- Anterograde amnesia- During the time under sedation, the brain cannot create new memories. This function is restored once the sedative wears off, so the events that are not remembered are limited to the dental visit itself.
- Faster, more efficient, more extensive work- When a patient is sedated and relaxed, the dentist can work more adeptly without stimulating a gag reflex. Patients are also able to sit for longer periods, which enables them to combine procedures if they’d like.
Who is a candidate for dental sedation?
Sedation dentistry is appropriate for many patients who find it difficult to undergo dental treatments or for patients who want to undergo a lengthy treatment session. With various forms of sedation available, our office can meet the needs of a wide range of patients.
How is dental sedation administered?
The administration of sedation is dependent on its form. We offer:
IV Conscious Sedation:
IV Conscious Sedation is utilized for patients that experience significant anxiety during dental visits or for difficult and lengthy procedures. Medications specific to the patient’s needs are used to relax the patient throughout the procedure.
Sedation has a very safe track record and is also a great option for patients who wish to complete a number of procedures in one visit. Dr. Jirik has provided IV conscious sedation since 1997 on a daily basis. Patients undergoing conscious sedation must follow strict preoperative and postoperative instructions and be escorted by a responsible adult.
Oral Conscious Sedation:
Oral Conscious Sedation is utilized to relieve minor anxieties for minor procedures. Selected patients are given prescriptions for oral sedatives that are administered in the office. The patient’s vital signs are monitored during their entire visit. We have provided Oral Sedation services since 1986. Patients utilizing conscious sedation must follow strict preoperative and postoperative instructions and be escorted by a responsible adult.
Nitrous Oxide or laughing gas is a simple and effective technique used to relieve minor anxieties for minor procedures. This technique allows the patient to experience procedures relaxed and once recovered leave the office by themselves.
What dental procedures can be done under sedation?
Most dental procedures can be performed with one of the various types of dental sedation. The purpose of this service is to help people manage the anxiety, stress, and fear they face when receiving dental care. Each case is unique and approached with the underlying objective of addressing that person’s level of anxiety. In some cases, sedation is administered to accommodate longer procedures in which multiple techniques are being performed in one sitting.
You can benefit from dental sedation during your routine exams and cleanings if these have been difficult for you in the past. In this instance, you may achieve an ideal level of relaxation with nitrous oxide. You can benefit from dental sedation if you need a filling, a root canal, or are having a tooth extracted. Dental implant surgery and other oral surgeries can also feel much more comfortable and seem to go by faster with the use of dental sedation.
How long will I be under sedation?
It is a mistake to assume that dental sedation “puts you under.” Dental sedation is not like general anesthesia. Different modalities achieve different levels of calm. For example, patients who receive nitrous oxide or oral conscious sedation are awake and alert, though possibly a little foggy or groggy, during dental procedures. However, they are not anxious because the administered sedative has soothed their nervous system. Patients who receive IV sedation may drift into a light sleep state for a short time.
How long sedation continues is relative to the procedure being done. It is possible to be sedated for a few hours, if necessary, to undergo multiple treatments in a single visit.
How long will I need to recover after dental sedation?
Patients recover from sedation very quickly but the timing does depend on the type of sedation one has received.
- Nitrous oxide wears off within a few minutes. Patients can drive and return to normal activities.
- Oral conscious sedation can cause grogginess that lasts up to several hours. Patients need to be escorted to their appointment and seen home by a reliable adult.
- IV conscious sedation also causes grogginess and slight cognitive impairment. Patients should not drive and should reserve the remainder of their day for rest.
Will I need someone to drive me home after a sedated dental treatment?
Whether or not you can drive yourself home after your appointment depends on the kind of sedation you are given. Nitrous oxide is the mildest and most temporary form of sedation. Because it is inhaled, the team can taper dosage off at the end of the procedure and increase oxygen. This reverses the effects of the sedative within a few minutes. If you receive nitrous oxide sedation, you will be able to drive yourself home.
Oral conscious sedation is usually some form of benzodiazepine medication, such as Halcion. This class of drug works by slowing activity in the brain to allow sleep. The effects of the benzodiazepine administered before dental treatment may be mild to moderate. However, because this can be unpredictable, patients should plan to have someone drive them home after their appointment.
It is necessary to have transportation arranged after IV sedation, as this is the deepest form of sedative administered and can take hours to completely wear off.
Is sedation dentistry safe?
Sedation dentistry is generally considered safe, effective, and convenient. We are serious about providing the utmost care to our patients so we have established specific protocols surrounding services that include sedation.
Patient Safety Monitoring:
Patient Safety Monitoring is imperative during sedation dentistry, treatment of the elderly or medically compromised patients. We provide constant analysis of the heart rate, heart rhythm, blood pressure, and blood oxygen concentration. Our staff is ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) certified. In the event of a medical complication or emergency, we are able to determine the problem and act promptly. To treat medical emergencies, we maintain a crash cart with emergency medications, supplies and an AED (Automated External Defibrillator). We have the ability to maintain oxygenation and cardio convert compromised patients.
Will I experience any pain during dental sedation?
It does not hurt to receive dental sedation. Nitrous oxide is inhaled through a lightweight mask placed over the nose. Oral sedation involves taking a pill, and IV sedation causes only a slight pinprick sensation as the IV is inserted.
Is sedation dentistry covered by insurance?
The dental procedures that are performed using sedation may be covered by insurance if they are being done to address a dental problem. Cosmetic treatments, being elective and performed for aesthetic improvements, are not covered by insurance. Likewise, dental sedation is considered elective and does not typically qualify for insurance coverage.