Regular dental checkups are essential for maintaining healthy teeth and gums, but many people employ an army of excuses to avoid them. The most common reason people avoid the dentist is fear. A traumatic childhood experience often underlies dental phobia. The fear is strong enough to prevent people of any age from seeking treatment, even when they have advanced tooth or gum disease. Fortunately, today’s sedation dentistry is a safe and powerful weapon against the terror experienced by so many.
What Is Sedation Dentistry?
Dental sedation makes frightened patients feel calm, relaxed and comfortable. Although a level of consciousness is maintained so that patients can respond and cooperate during the procedure, they are not aware of what is happening and may not even remember anything after the medications wear off. The
types of conscious sedation available include oral tranquilizers and anti-anxiety drugs, inhaled nitrous oxide gas and intravenous (IV) sedatives. Sedation has several benefits. Besides eliminating fear and stress, it increases the pain threshold and limits patient movement to make procedures safer. Dental sedation allows people who would otherwise be paralyzed by fear have access to complete professional dental care.
Dental Sedation: Is It Safe?
Fears of not returning to full consciousness or losing control over bodily functions during sedation are common, but in reality, patients are closely monitored throughout the procedure and complications like that are almost non existent. They awaken easily and maintain control of voluntary movements at all times. All drugs have potential risks and side effects, but the substances used in dental sedation are reliable, predictable and generally safe for healthy people of all ages, including children and the elderly. People with chronic health issues should speak to their physicians before undergoing sedation dentistry. Advances in dental technology, sophisticated monitoring systems, new medications and evolving guidelines make dental sedation safer and simpler for everyone.
The Three Sedation Levels
Most dentists offer some form of sedation, but it is best to inquire about available methods and sedation levels before scheduling a procedure.
- Mild sedation: patients are awake but relaxed.
- Moderate sedation: depresses consciousness and affects memory, but patients retain the ability to respond to verbal commands.
- Deep sedation: is reserved for patients with severe anxiety. Under deep sedation, patients are not easily roused and may require assistance with breathing.
Is Dental Sedation Covered by Insurance?
Some patients are concerned about the cost of sedation. Many insurance companies will cover it for general dental work, but coverage may vary by procedure and sedation method and may not apply to cosmetic work.
Choose Sedation, and Forget Fear
If you have been neglecting a serious dental problem because of fear, don’t put your appointment off another day. Ask your dentist if you are a good candidate for dental sedation, and enjoy a calm, pain-free dental experience.