Some people say I’m insane when I tell them that I love going to the dentist; actually, I love the feeling of a super clean mouth rather than the actual procedure or my dentist (although, he is very handsome). Most people, though, dislike visiting their dentist and will avoid it for as long as possible. If this is you, please read today’s guest post by Karen Boyarsky.
Lots of people have phobias. Fear of spiders, heights, flying… can send some people into a downright tizzy. That same paralyzing fear strikes thousands of people when they consider a trip to the dentist. Whether it’s a fear of pain or of being vulnerable, many people let their fear of the dentist prevent them from receiving the oral health care that they need.
If you count yourself among those who haven’t been to the dentist in years because of fear, sedation dentistry might be just what you’ve been hoping for. Here are answers to the most frequently asked questions when it comes to sedation dentistry:
1. What is Sedation Dentistry?
Sedation dentistry is used for people who have let their fear of the dentist prevent them from seeking attention for everything from general cleanings to fillings. Most sedation dentistry patients are lightly sedated and, though they can answer the dentist’s questions, they often don’t remember the appointment later. Instead of being put under general anesthesia, patients are sedated enough to be able to relax yet recover quickly.
2. Is Every Dentist Qualified?
Not every dentist is qualified to perform sedation dentistry. To qualify, a dentist must complete a comprehensive or advanced program approved by the American Dental Association. The dentist must also hold current certification in basic life support designed for healthcare providers. Even if another dentist performs the sedation, the dentist working on the patient must be certified in basic life support procedures.
As the levels of sedation deepen, your dentist must have received advanced certification to ensure the safety of any patient put under mild, moderate or deep sedation. Many dentist offices, such as Bellevue dentist, have websites where you can read about the dentist’s certification.
3. Who Can Be Sedated?
Potentially anyone can be sedated during dental work. Dentists are strongly urged to seek the approval of a patient’s primary physician prior to sedating the patient. Every patient must be evaluated individually and, in the case of significant medical considerations, sedation may be denied.
Children, with the permission of their parents, are permitted to be moderately sedated and the dentist must follow the guidelines laid forth in “Guidelines for Monitoring and Management of Pediatric Patients During and After Sedation for Diagnostic and Therapeutic Procedures” by the American Academy of Pediatrics/American Academy of Pediatric Dentists.
4. Are There Different Forms of Sedation?
There are three levels of sedation currently in use: mild, moderate and deep. Mild sedation is typically achieved through a medication like Haldol. Patients are asked to take one pill about an hour before their appointment. If the patient is not deemed to be relaxed enough, another dose will be given before the patient’s treatment begins. Moderate sedation may be achieved through the use of stronger pharmaceutical drugs or gas nitrous oxide. Deep sedation and general anesthesia are typically achieved through the use of intravenous medications.
5. Do the Benefits Outweigh the Risks?
During sedation, the patient must be monitored in accordance with standards set forth by the ADA. These monitoring procedures are put in place to reduce the risk to the patient. The level of risk involved with sedation dentistry increase as the levels of sedation deepen. That said, there is currently a bit of controversy surrounding the extra dosing of pills like Haldol. Because people metabolize drugs at different rates, the risk of overdose is a real one. Supplemental dosage of prescription medication is not to exceed 1.5 times the minimal reacting dose for the particular patient. As with any medical procedure involving sedation, there is always a risk of respiratory or cardiovascular distress.
If you have been avoiding the dentist out of fear, finding a doctor who is qualified to practice sedation dentistry may be a good idea. Oral health can affect total body health and shouldn’t be neglected. If you’ve ignored the health of your mouth, the risks of sedation dentistry are far outweighed by the benefits.
About the Author:
Karen Boyarsky is a freelance blogger writing for medical blogs. You can follow her on Twitter @Boyarsky_kareni.
Although I don’t normally condone mainstream medicine, over the past few years I’ve recognized that it does have it’s uses for the right circumstances. This is one instance where I believe that sedation may help a lot of people. What are your thoughts?