The Many Benefits of Conscious Sedation Dentistry

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If you’re like most people, you have fear and anxiety related to going to your family dentist. It’s important to remember that you’re not alone. In fact, many Americans suffer from varying degrees of odontophobia, or fear of the dentist. Odontophobia has been classified as a legitimate phobia in the Diagnostical and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Many, if not all, local dentists and family dentists, understand the concern, fear, and anxiety related to dental procedures and therefore offer conscious sedation dentistry practices to their patients, which helps to alleviate the anxiety associated with dentist visits. Conscious sedation dentistry, often referred to as “sleep dentistry”, allows patients to comfortably relax during dental procedures. However, while most patients report a sense of extreme calm and relaxation, most are not completely asleep, but rather, conscious and aware of their surroundings.

There are varying degrees of conscious sedation dentistry, all contingent upon the level of comfort expressed and desired by the patient. Minimal sedation allows patients to remain fully awake, yet relaxed. Moderate sedation brings patients into a deep state of relaxation, with some not remembering much of the procedure at all, whereas deep sedation allows patients to be on edge of consciousness, while still being able to be easily awakened. Then of course, there is general anesthesia, which is a medically induced state of complete unconsciousness.

There are several types of sedation used in modern dentistry. Inhaled minimal sedation, commonly known as “laughing gas” is combined with oxygen and placed over the patient’s nose. The gas helps patients ease into a state of relaxation comfortable. The dentist controls the amount of sedation their patient receives. Laughing gas wears off quickly, and is the only form of sedation where the patient may be able to drive themselves home.

However, other forms of sedation dentistry require the use of medication. Again, depending on the dose given and the level of sedation desired, oral sedation can range from mild to moderate. Typically Halcion, which is in the same family as Valium, is taken by the patient approximately an hour before the procedure is to begin. The pill relaxes the patient, and may make them drowsy, however, they are still conscious. A large dose may be given in order to produce higher levels of sedation.

If you have concerns regarding sedation dentistry, speak with your dentist, or find a dentist in your area who offers this service. Regular dental check ups are an important part of one’s health. Don’t let your fear or anxiety of going to the dentist prevent you from having a healthy smile.

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