Sedation dentistry has become a popular procedure in modern dentistry and most of the dentists, at least in US, offer some type of dental sedation to their patients. But that does not mean that any dentist can call himself a sedation dentist, neither that all sedation dentists can offer the same types of sedation. Most sedation dentists today offer nitrous oxide, some also offer oral conscious sedation, even fewer dentists can offer IV sedation, and only a handful are eligible to offer general anesthesia.
Basically, a sedation dentist is any qualified dentist who uses sedative medication to provide patient relaxation, ease dental anxiety in phobic patients, or achieve patient co-operation in mentally or physically handicapped patients. The use of sedatives in dentistry can make an invasive dental procedure much more comfortable and tolerable for the patient.
Sedation dentists are sometimes called also ‘sleep dentists’ but the term is incorrect when referring to dentists who offer conscious dental sedation. Sedation does not necessarily mean that the patient will be asleep, although the patient may not remember much of what happened while he/she is sedated. Only dentists offering deep sedation and general anesthesia should be referred as ‘sleep dentists’.
Sedation Dentistry is not one of the recognized dental specialties, but using the term ‘sedation dentist’ must be strictly limited only to qualified dentists. Sedation dentistry qualified dentists are those who meet the educational requirements, and have acquired the necessary permit or licensing in accordance with their state rules and regulations for the appropriate level of sedation they offer to their patients.
The American Dental Association and most state dental boards require dentists to have specialized training in sedative techniques, equipment, medications and medical history analysis to ensure that they are appropriately skilled in the practice of sedation dentistry. Training and licensing requirements differ significantly depending on the specific level of sedation.
The main ‘duties’ of a sedation dentist include:
a. Before the procedure:
b. During the sedation procedure
c. After the procedure
The sedation dentist is responsible for providing the optimum level of relaxation and comfort in combination with minimizing the potential risks and maintaining patient’s safety.
Choosing a dentist to deal with your dental problems is an important task. For patients suffering from dental anxiety or with certain special needs it becomes a much more difficult task. Patients who have a fear for the dentist may have a major problem due to the additional fear that they may make the wrong choice of dentist.
A sedation dentist can help patients to fight their dental anxiety or handicap and get proper dental care. Due to the risks involved with sedation dentistry (especially in deep sedation and general anesthesia) the sedation dentist must be carefully selected.
At this point, if you still do not feel comfortable with the specific dentist, it is better to look for someone else. For a successful sedation dentistry procedure this is essential; the results will not be the expected ones if you do not trust your sedation dentist.