Sedation Dentistry is the modern way of having dental treatment, which can transform an unpleasant and stressful appointment with the dentist into a comfortable experience even for patients with dental anxiety or fear for the dentist. Sedation dentistry offers the opportunity to many patients with dental phobia or certain medical or mental conditions to get the dental care they need.
Sedation dentistry is the use of medication affecting the central nervous system (CNS) in order to put a patient in a calm and relaxed state while the dentist performs the dental procedure. It is also referred to as ‘relaxation dentistry’, ‘anxiety free dentistry’, ‘painless dentistry’, or ‘sleep dentistry’. Various sedative drugs such as tranquillizers, depressants, sleeping pills, anxiolytics, etc. are used to induce sedation.
One of the main reasons that it has become very popular lately is because of the several benefits of sedation dentistry for both the patient and the dentist. The sedative drugs help the patient to become free of stress and anxiety, reduce memory of the treatment, and make the dental appointment a much less unpleasant experience especially in case of invasive treatments. On the same time, sedation makes the procedure easier for the dentist, allowing him to concentrate on performing the dental treatment in the best possible way to a fully co-operative patient. For some patient groups, the use of sedation dentistry is actually the only way that they can get the dental care they need and improve their dental health.
Although advances in local anesthesia and new dentistry techniques such as air abrasion and laser dentistry have significantly reduled the level of pain associated with dental treatments, there is still a large percentage of the population that avoids visiting the dentistry because of dental phobia, fear of the dentist, or severe dental anxiety.
Several types of sedation dentistry are offered by dentists, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Different levels of dental sedation can be achieved, by using different medication, dosage, or sedation technique, depending on the needs of the specific patient. According to the way that the sedative medication is administered to the patient, the most common conscious sedation methods are categorized as:
For very invasive procedures or for patients with specific health conditions, General Anesthesia may be necessary so that the patient is fully unconscious during the procedure. General anesthesia is the only method that can properly be referred as ‘sleep dentistry’.
The additional cost of dental sedation may be an obstacle for many people who would like to take advantage of the painless and comfortable treatments that sedation dentistry can offer. Light to moderate conscious sedation dentistry will generally cost much less than IV sedation or general anesthesia. In some cases you may get some dental insurance coverage for sedation dentistry, but in general it is not covered. Therefore you may have to seek for some tips to reduce the cost and achieve more affordable sedation dentistry treatment fees.
Although most of the patients can have their dental treatment under sedation, some patients who take specific medications or with certain medical conditions may not be good candidates for dental sedation or for a specific method of sedation dentistry. The sedation dentist will always check the patient’s medical history to identify any contraindications or restrictions to the use of sedation dentistry prior to the procedure.
The use of conscious sedation techniques in dentistry is safe and effective when properly administered by trained professionals. Choosing a sedation dentist is a very important task for ensuring patient’s safety. When searching for a sedation dentist, do not hesitate to ask about the dentist’s and his staff's training and experience in sedation dentistry. Each type of sedation dentistry has different training and licensing requirements.