Sedation Dentistry

The mere thought of visiting a dental office evokes intense anxiety and panic in some individuals. For such people, even a dental procedure as innocuous as tooth cleaning can be agonising. They will rather endure a severe toothache than visit a dentist for treatment.

Recent dental advances have made fear and phobia of dental treatment a thing of the past. Sedation dentistry utilises medication to alleviate some of the anxiety associated with dental treatment and help patients relax while undergoing dental procedures.

Modern dental offices are configured to make the environment friendlier and their personnel are trained to be polite and gentle with patients. Dental instruments are kept out of sight and noisy equipment such as dental drills are used in secluded areas of the surgery. All these are meant to prepare the patient for a pleasant experience at the dental office.

But they are not enough to alleviate the fears of an extremely nervous patient scheduled for a dental procedure. Various levels of sedation may be required, depending on the severity of the fear. Inhalation sedation, an administration of a mixture of gas and air through a nosepiece relieves the patient of anxiety while being fully conscious during the procedure.

This brings about a feeling of relaxation and alleviation of any discomfort associated with the procedure. There may be some drowsiness, but the patient is conscious, even though the patient may speak with some slurring. The effects of inhalation sedation wear off quickly, and the patient may be able to return to normal activities shortly after.

Sedation by intravenous injection is usually done by administering the medication through a fine needle inserted into a vein at the back of the hand or on the arm. The dose of the medication will depend on the degree of sedation required and the duration of the procedure. The sedative effects kick in very rapidly and their actions are highly effective and reliable.

The intravenous injection will induce moderate sedation and the patient will be awake while the procedure is being carried out, but the patient will probably be unable to remember much of what transpired. This is because the type of medication used for this purpose causes some degree of amnesia while it is active, making time appears to pass very quickly.  

Patients still require local anaesthetic injections to numb their gums before dental procedures commence, so prior sedation by an intravenous injection is ideal for patients who become anxious at the sight of a needle. The effect of the sedation is sufficiently profound to cause a feeling of not being bothered when the needle is sighted.

The effects of the injection may take a little longer to wear off; therefore, patients may be unable to drive or operate machinery immediately after receiving an intravenous injection for sedation.