Sedation Dentistry for Those With Dental Anxiety

If the idea of going to the dentist makes you scared, you are probably dealing with dental anxiety. Sedation dentistry entails the application of techniques, including nitrous oxide and general anesthesia to keep a patient calm during dental procedures that may be somewhat uncomfortable. This solves the issue of dental anxiety and makes people more willing to go for their dental appointments.

Who is eligible for sedation?

Dental offices use sedation and anti-anxiety techniques for standard dental procedures. Sedation is applicable for almost every dental procedure, depending on the patient’s requirements.

For a patient to be considered fit for certain types of sedation, dentists will consider their overall health, including the physical and mental state. Many health conditions may require approval from a physician – cardiac disease, diabetes, hypertension, and respiratory diseases should all be treated before administering any form of sedation. The dentist will need an appraisal of the patient’s medical history and physical condition before proceeding, and if possible, recommend treatment before treatment continues. They may also request medical clearance from the patient’s doctor.

Types of sedation used

The following are the types of sedation used in dentistry:

Nitrous oxide

Also known as laughing gas, nitrous oxide is perhaps the most common type of sedation used in dentistry. Inhalation analgesia, as it is sometimes called, is used to reduce pain during child delivery – it does not put the patient to sleep, and is effective for reducing dental anxiety. This option is safe and available in most dental offices. Local anesthesia injection, usually used along with nitrous oxide, are now more effective and mostly painless. Nevertheless, the gas can be given through a device to reduce the pain of injection significantly.

Enteral sedation

Enteral sedation is a type of sedation available as a pill or liquid, and it is to be taken orally. Like local anesthesia, it is often used along with nitrous oxide. The patient will still be conscious but will not feel any sensation from the ongoing dental procedure. Enteral sedation helps to reduce dental anxiety significantly. 

IV Sedation

Intravenous (IV) sedation is designed to reduce dental anxiety through the direct injection of a sedative into the vein. This option gives the dentist a chance to induce a deeper level of sedation. Although the patient will still be conscious, they will be unaware of the procedure. This method requires a recovery period after leaving the dental office. Therefore, the patient will need to arrange for transportation back home and supervision for a few hours.

General anesthesia

With general anesthesia, the patient will be completely asleep throughout the treatment, thus practically eliminating dental anxiety. It is administered through drugs that are injected directly into the vein, sometimes with inhalation of a gaseous sedative. The dentist may keep the patient in the office for a while for complete recovery.

Final note

Although most dentists can administer nitrous oxide, other forms of sedation need special equipment, additional training, and emergency supplies. The American Dental Association sets the guidelines for administering sedation and the required training. This means that patients need to choose a dentist with the expertise and experience in sedation. With sedation dentistry, the dentist can successfully tackle dental anxiety to help patients.

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