"Sedation Dentistry" - What Does it Really Mean?
Here’s something all dentists hear on a regular basis, “No offense, but I really hate the dentist.” Or some version of this statement where the patient proclaims their fear and anxiety for our profession. Sometimes, it’s the first thing a patient says upon meeting the dentist.
It’s safe to say that if you have anxiety about seeing the dentist, you are not alone. Fortunately, sedation dentistry is here to help. However, there is a lot of confusion about what “sedation dentistry” really means. I’ve seen many dental offices advertise for sedation services and their only option is taking a pill prior the appointment. For some, this may be enough, but for others, it will not help them get the dental treatment they need.
At Center for Progressive Dentistry in Duxbury, MA, we truly offer a full range of sedation dentistry services.
Nitrous oxide, aka “laughing gas”, is a sweet smelling gas that is mixed with oxygen and inhaled through a mask. It is extremely safe and helps to reduce anxiety. While undergoing nitrous oxide sedation, the patient is able to fully respond to the dentist and assistant during treatment. Many people describe the feeling as similar to having a couple glasses of wine. Once the procedure is over, the patient is able to leave the office with no lasting effects of the nitrous and can drive home on their own.
In our office, an anti-anxiety medication like Valium is prescribed prior to appointments to reduce anxiety. It can be combined with nitrous oxide for especially fearful patients. Oral sedation requires the patient be driven to and from the office by an escort.
Certain patients and procedures are best treated under IV sedation. There are multiple levels of sedation which can be administered intravenously. It ranges from being awake and responsive to being completely asleep and under general anesthesia. Due to advanced patient monitoring needed for this type of sedation, our office works with a Board Certified Dentist Anesthesiologist, Dr. Patrick McCarty (www.zzzdmd.com). Dr. McCarty brings all the necessary equipment, medications, and staff to the office so that our patients don’t have to go anywhere else to receive their treatment. All patients must be driven home by an escort after the procedure.
Generally, we reserve this type of sedation for longer dental appointments, such as extraction of teeth and insertion of dentures, dental implant placement, and bone grafting procedures. However, IV sedation can be used for more common treatments like crowns, fillings, and root canals. In most cases, all necessary dental work can be completed in one visit.
The benefits of sedation dentistry are enormous. Patients who are otherwise afraid of coming to the dentist can now get the necessary care they need. It can also make longer appointment procedures more comfortable. Of course, there are risks for each type of sedation and they should be discussed with Dr. Scardella and Dr. Santelli. We welcome all our patients to ask questions and understand their options before deciding to undergo dental treatment.
-David Scardella, DMD