Posted by Dr. William Yoo
For some people, a trip to the dentist is not a pleasant thought. Just imagining needles, blood, and pain can be a little stressful for the patient. But with modern dentistry, there are ways to appease the patient. One of the best ways is through dental sedation.
Not everyone is open to the idea of sedation – most think that it is a potentially life threatening treatment option.
Here we have listed clarification on common misconceptions about sedation.
Sedation is not synonymous to sleeping
When we hear the word ‘sedation’ the first thing we think is sleeping. Sleeping occurs when the patient is placed under general anesthesia. Sedation in dentistry does not mean the patient will be completely unconscious or sleeping.
Sedation is deep relaxation. The patient is still conscious and can respond to instructions. There are three levels of sedation commonly used in the dental setting: Minimal, moderate, and deep. In minimal sedation, you are awake and relaxed. In moderate sedation, speech and memory can be affected – speech is garbled and memory is blurred. In deep sedation, the patient is almost asleep but can still respond to questions; memory of the procedure is vague.
Sedation is not limited to intravenous (IV)
The most common method of sedation is administered through intravenous or IV. It is the common choice because of its immediate effect and potency. Since there are apparent risks to a procedure of this nature, medical clearance is required. Once the IV line is removed, the effect will start to dissipate until the medication is completely eliminated from the system primarily through urination or sweating. It is advised that the patient be accompanied if this is the choice for sedation.
Other methods of sedation include oral sedation and inhalation conscious sedation. Both are equally effective but the desired level of sedation may vary.
Oral sedation requires the patient to ingest a pill or place it under the tongue. The effect of the drug may be felt in a few minutes and can last for a few hours. This method does not require any special equipment or medical clearance. It is easily accomplished by the patient.
Inhalation conscious sedation is also known as “laughing gas” or “happy gas.” This procedure uses equipment that will facilitate inhalation of nitrous oxide mixed with oxygen. This will give a feeling of lightheadedness to the patient. Once the procedure is done, increase in oxygen supply will allow the patient to return to normal.
Sedation is not a one-dose-fits-all
Just like any other drug and anesthesia administration, it is very important to consider the patient’s overall health, age, weight, and medical history before proceeding with this option. These are the factors that will determine the dosage for the individual.
Sedation is not expensive
Contrary to belief, sedation is an affordable option for most people. There is additional cost for the sedation process especially if one opts for IV sedation or inhalation conscious sedation. But there are some health insurance companies who accept and cover the expenses for sedation. The idea of complete comfort typically outweigh the cost for most patients. While the patient is under sedation, all necessary dental treatment can be accomplished, no hesitation from the dentist, and there is no apprehension from the patient because they are at ease and relaxed.