Imagine a patient sitting in a dentist’s chair ready for a cleaning, but the dentist is unable to proceed because the patient is paralyzed by fear and anxiety. Fear of the dentist prevents many people from seeking dental care, both routine and emergency, resulting in unnecessary tooth decay and loss. The dental world has come up with a solution to this problem with the use of sedation dentistry, allowing patients the opportunity to be in a relaxed state when the dental work is being performed. Sedation dentistry offers many benefits to patients, including easing the anxiety of patients who suffer from a severe dental phobia.
Understanding sedation dentistry is the first step in getting to the core of how it helps patients. Sedatives such as tranquilizers, anti-anxiety medications, depressants, and nitrous oxide induce the patient into a state of calm. In the past, most patients were only offered these medications intravenously or via inhalation, but that has changed drastically. Most patients are now offered oral sedation dentistry through pills that are given prior to and during the appointment to ease them into a relaxed state.
The first, and possibly the most important, benefit of sedation during dental appointments is the fact that it allows people who would otherwise never seek treatment to get the routine dental care they need. They will not fall into the trap of being so afraid that they only go to the dentist when they are in so much pain that they cannot function. Sedated dental patients often remember very little about the procedure, which reduces anxiety levels for future visits.
Patients who are sedated have a higher pain threshold. The sedative, also controls a very sensitive gag reflex and other uncontrolled movements of anxious patients. In the past, these patients would have had to be put to sleep under general anesthesia, requiring an oral surgeon and long recovery times.
Among the many benefits of sedation is the fact that procedures that take hours to perform may seem like they only took minutes to the patient. For example, if a patient comes in for a complicated rebuilding procedure, the sedatives help him or her to relax and be in a cooperative state. This allows the dentist to complete the procedure without having to stop to deal with an upset patient or one who is exhausted from keeping his mouth open for too long, resulting in fewer visits to get the job done.
A relaxed and cooperative patient also results in better quality dentistry. The dentist has fewer interruptions, so he or she is able to perform each step with accuracy. The more accurate the procedure, the less healing time and muscle pain there is for the patient when it is over.
Dental bills can add up quickly, especially when it comes to long procedures. Sedation allows the dentist to work without interruption for long periods of time, which results in fewer visits that would each require the patient to pay more. Fewer visits also mean that the patient requires less time away from work or family.
People who are sedated tend to have great oral health because they no longer avoid their cleanings and annual x-rays that keep teeth healthy. They avoid costly and painful root canals or extractions because the teeth remain in good condition due to proper care. There is no need for people to suffer with an embarrassing smile because they are afraid. Sedation dentistry can make the patient comfortable enough to endure any procedure that gets him or her on the road to a better smile.