What Is Sedation Dentistry?
Sedation dentistry uses medication to help patients relax during dental procedures. It's sometimes referred to as "sleep dentistry," although that's not entirely accurate. Patients are usually awake with the exception of those who are under general anesthesia.
What Types of Sedation Are Used at the Chandler Dental Center?
Inhaled minimal sedation. You breathe nitrous oxide -- otherwise known as "laughing gas" -- combined with oxygen through a mask that's placed over your nose. The gas helps you relax. Your dentist can control the amount of sedation you receive, and the gas tends to wear off quickly. This is the only form of sedation where you may be able to drive yourself home after the procedure.
Oral sedation. Depending on the total dose given, oral sedation can range from minimal to moderate. For minimal sedation, you take a pill. Typically, the pill is Halcion, which is a member of the same drug family as Valium, and it's usually taken about an hour before the procedure. The pill will make you drowsy, although you'll still be awake. A larger dose may be given to produce moderate sedation. This is the type of anesthesia most commonly associated with sedation dentistry. Some people become groggy enough from moderate oral sedation to actually fall asleep during the procedure. They usually can, though, be awakened with a gentle shake.
IV moderate sedation. You receive the sedative drug through a vein, so it goes to work more quickly. This method allows the dentist to continually adjust the level of sedation.
Regardless of which type of sedation you receive, you'll also typically need a local anesthetic -- numbing medication at the site where the dentist is working in the mouth -- to relieve pain if the procedure causes any discomfort.
Who Can Have Sedation at the Dentist's?
Sedation is most appropriate for people with a real fear or anxiety that is preventing them from going to the dentist.
Sedation dentistry may also be appropriate for people who:
have a low pain threshold
can't sit still in the dentist's chair
have very sensitive teeth
have a bad gag reflex
need a large amount of dental work completed
Sometimes, children are given sedation if they are terrified of going to the dentist or refuse to cooperate during the visit. Nitrous oxide tends to be safe in children, and just about any dentist can administer it. A smaller percentage of pediatric dentists are trained to give children oral sedation. Oral sedation can be safe when kept within the recommended dose for the child's age and weight.
Can Any Dentist Perform Sedation?
No, the Texas State Dental Board carefully regulates the use of sedation techniques. The Texas State Dental Board requires dentists to hold permits in order to perform sedation. Most dentists with "Level One" can administer only minimal sedation by using one drug (either nitrous oxide or pills). Dentists with "Level Two" permits can give moderate sedation by combining multiple drugs (often a combination two drugs and nitrous oxide). A small percentage of "Level Three" dentists who have completed advanced training and certification in moderate IV Sedation can use these more complex techniques.
All of our sedation dentists at Chandler Dental Center are either "Level Two or Three" permitted.
How Safe Is Sedation Dentistry?
There is always a risk in getting anesthesia. It is usually safe, though, when given by experienced dentists. However, certain people, such as those who are obese or who have obstructive sleep apnea, should talk to their doctor before having sedation. That's because they are more likely to develop complications from the anesthesia.
It's important to make sure that your dentist is trained and qualified to administer the type of sedation you will be receiving. To aid in the safe use of sedation, we make sure the following things are done:
Before the procedure, we go over your medical history. We also determine whether you are an appropriate candidate for sedation and ask about any medications you're currently taking.
We will select what dose of the sedative is appropriate for your age and health. (We will select a dose within the dose recommended by the FDA.)
We keep up to date on the training of all of our doctors and staff.
You should receive a form detailing the risks of the procedure. We will go over it carefully with you. Ask questions if you're unclear on any of the wording.
We will monitor your vital signs during the procedure following the American Dental Association's guidelines. The dentist should also have oxygen -- artificial ventilation -- and drugs that reverse the effects of sedation on hand in case you need them.