Statistics gathered by the Dental Organization for Conscious Sedation (DOCS Education) reveal that thirty percent of Americans avoid dentists because of fear or anxiety. This “dental phobia” usually stems from bad and painful experiences with dentists in the past, a general distrust in the dental profession, and the fear of loss of control. As a result, millions of people are not able to receive necessary routine dental care.
To provide a relaxing and anxiety-free experience for certain people with this condition, sedation dentistry is employed.
Sedation dentistry is basically the use of pharmacological agents to calm and relax a patient prior to and during a dental appointment. These agents or sedatives exert their action by depressing the central nervous system, specifically those areas concerned with conscious awareness.
Although sometimes referred to as sleep dentistry, sedation dentistry does not actually induce one to sleep during a procedure. Sedation dentistry enables the patient to be conscious throughout the entire process while being relaxed and getting very little and hazy recollection of the treatment. The use of general anesthesia is not considered sedation dentistry.
Previously, intravenous or IV sedation was predominantly used to sedate a dental patient. This involves the delivery of sedatives via injection into the blood vessels of the hand or arm. Today, less invasive and more relaxing approaches of administering sedatives are available. Some of the more popular methods are inhalation sedation (also referred to as laughing gas, happy gas, nitrous, nitrous oxide), and oral sedation (the swallowing of pills or a liquid).
It is important to note that it is not the kind of dental procedure that determines whether sedation is to be recommended. Some people prefer to be sedated even for a simple cleaning, others just have higher threshold for pain and discomfort and need more than just words of assurance when they visit the dentist.
So while engaging the services of a calm and understanding dental professional, who has the ability to put one at ease is helpful. Sedation dentistry offers a means for complete physical and mental relaxation for people who consider dental appointments as excruciating ordeals.