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Sedation Dentistry


The fear of dental treatment has prevented a lot of people from benefiting from the incredible advances made in dentistry. For those who suffer from fear, adequate provision has been made to ensure that their treatment is free of anxiety and pain.

The two methods employed in doing this are blocking the sensations of pain with local anesthetics or by giving the patients medication that helps to relax them. Sometimes, both are needed to ensure maximum comfort, especially for those whose anxiety is heightened by the injections used to deliver local anesthetics.

This development should not be undermined because patients who possess a fear of dental treatment raise their guards subconsciously. Consequentially, this reduces the patient’s pain threshold. The patient becomes hypersensitive to every sensation or sound, in anticipation of being hurt. Hence, we use this procedure to combat the obstacles that this fear fosters in the course of dental treatment.

Certain information is required before a doctor prescribes any sedative for a patient. This information includes their health history, as well as medications that are currently being taken — both prescribed and over-the-counter. Information on the patient’s intake, as well as their tobacco and alcohol consumption are also required. Patients are usually advised to make alternative arrangements for transportation because it is not advisable to drive immediately after sedation.

Ways to Relieve Anxiety

oral-sedationOral Sedation — This involves the introduction of the sedative into the patient’s system via oral ingestion. It is a popular option for many patients because it does not require the use of needles. These sedatives may be swallowed as a pill or dissolved under the tongue. Either of these methods works in a matter of minutes.

Science, through extensive studies, has invented different oral sedative and anxiolytic medications. These have been tested to make dental treatment as comfortable and relaxing as possible for patients. These sedatives all have long safety records after decades of use, and many possess amnesiac properties.  That is, the patient will remember little or nothing about the entire procedure despite being conscious during the procedure). Medications usually prescribed include Valium®, Sonata®, Vistaril®, and Versed®, Halcion®, Ativan®.

conscious-sedationInhalation Conscious Sedation —As the name implies, this involves the ingestion of sedatives via the nasal cavity. The sedative used here is a nitrous oxide, as the patient can quickly inhale it. Although it is not effective at relieving pain, it is a great anti-anxiety medication.

It is administered through a nasal hood (it resembles a small cup that is placed over the nose). Oxygen mixed with nitrous oxide creates a light-headed or even euphoric feeling that wears off quickly, so there is no “hangover” effect. The medication is quite safe, as dentists have used it for more than a hundred years in the course of their ministrations.

IV Conscious Sedation — This involves the injection of sedatives directly into the bloodstream (into the vein). This method has proven to make the effects of the painkillers far more potent than when taken orally. This is because IV sedation works immediately on the several parts of the body and also affect body functions such as heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing. Hence, the degree of risk associated with this process is higher than with other types of sedatives.

For this reason, those charged with the responsibility of administering the sedatives are specially trained and must possess specific professional qualifications before they are employed to do said administration. Again, to ensure the safety of the patient, the patient’s vitals are monitored with specialized equipment for the period that the IV sedation treatment is expected to last. This method of sedative ingestion is recommended because of its speed in taking effect and it’s an almost painless application. For these reasons, many patients prefer this method.

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