Sedation Dentistry: Can You Really Relax in the Dentist's Chair?
Who Can Have Sedation at the Dentist's?
Sedation is most appropriate for people with a real fear or anxiety that is preventing them from going to the dentist.
Sedation dentistry may also be appropriate for people who:
- have a low pain threshold
- can't sit still in the dentist's chair
- have very sensitive teeth
- have a bad gag reflex
- need a large amount of dental work completed
Sometimes, children are given sedation if they are terrified of going to the dentist or refuse to cooperate during the visit. Nitrous oxide tends to be safe in children, and just about any dentist can administer it. A smaller percentage of pediatric dentists are trained to give children oral sedation. Oral sedation can be safe when kept within the recommended dose for the child's age and weight.
Can Any Dentist Perform Sedation?
Most dentists can administer minimal sedation (such as nitrous oxide or pills). An increasing number of dentists can give moderate sedation. However, only a small percentage of dentists who have completed the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) program in deep sedation and general anesthesia can use these more complex techniques. These dentists are typically oral and maxillofacial surgeons and dentist anesthesiologists. Some dentists use a dentist anesthesiologist, who is specially trained to give all levels of sedation and anesthesia to both children and adults.
Each state's dental board carefully regulates the use of sedation techniques. Many states require dentists to hold permits in order to perform sedation.
How Safe Is Sedation Dentistry?
There is always a risk in getting anesthesia. It is usually safe, though, when given by experienced dentists. However, certain people, such as those who are obese or who have obstructive sleep apnea, should talk to their doctor before having sedation. That's because they are more likely to develop complications from the anesthesia.
It's important to make sure that your dentist is trained and qualified to administer the type of sedation you will be receiving. To be a smart patient, you should make sure the following things are done:
- Before the procedure, your dentist should go over your medical history. Your dentist should also determine whether you are an appropriate candidate for sedation and ask about any medications you're currently taking.
- You should ask what dose of the sedative is appropriate for your age and health. You should also ask whether it is within the dose recommended by the FDA.
- It's important to find out how much training the dentist has and how many procedures he or she has performed using sedation. The more procedures the dentist has performed, the better.
- You should receive a form detailing the risks of the procedure. Go over it carefully with your dentist. Ask questions if you're unclear on any of the wording.
- The dentist should monitor your vital signs during the procedure following the American Dental Association's guidelines. The dentist should also have oxygen -- artificial ventilation -- and drugs that reverse the effects of sedation on hand in case you need them.