Using Sedation in Dentistry
The Sedation Dental Care Standard
The standard of treating patients using sedation was set by physicians in the U.S. approximately 40 years ago. It is nothing new for patients to be sedated for operations on knees, feet, wrists, ears, noses, or practically anything else. A lady told me the other day, “I had to go in for an MRI (a type of x-ray). I was very nervous so my doctor sedated me.” Often patients ask dentists for sedation and the dentists downplay the need for sedation, simply because treating sedated patients possibly outside their comfort zone or because they don’t have the additional training and accreditation necessary to sedate patients.
You wouldn’t think of having an ear operation or a nose operation without sedation. But, you move one inch to the teeth and it becomes acceptable to endure time-consuming, strenuous, noisy, and uncomfortable procedures on the most sensitive, personal part of the body (the mouth) with no sedation. Dentists attempt to work outside of the already established standard of using sedation. As a result, we as dentists treat only 50% of the population while physicians treat over 90%.
I have found that fearful patients psychologically have no problem being sedated for dental treatment. You ask a nervous patient, “Would you rather have this work done in six appointments over the next two months or in one appointment while you sleep?”, and they look at you like you’re crazy. “Put me to sleep,” is their reply.
Sedation for certain types of dental care has been used for over thirty years. If you asked one hundred patients who have had their wisdom teeth removed how they had it done, most would say they were put to sleep by an oral surgeon to have them removed.
If you feel that sedation, which is the standard of care for the rest of the body, is necessary for your dental care, call us.
Type of Sedation
The sedation we utilize is oral sedation (pills). We use pills for several reasons:
- Many of our patients are needle-phobic so they would not like to be told that we must use a needle to sedate them.
- With oral sedation we can work on patients for a longer period of time.
- Oral sedation is very safe.
- The pills stay in a patients system for several hours after the appointment, so we get few complaints of pain after procedures are completed.
How You Will Feel
Our patients’ perception of this conscious sedation technique is they feel that they have slept through the appointment. We commonly hear, “I remember taking some pills and the next thing I remember is waking up with my teeth fixed.” Some patients remember nothing about their treatment. A few will remember a little, usually at the end of the appointment when we are getting them ready to go home. You will need someone to bring you to our office on the day of your sedation appointment and you MUST have someone take you home afterwards.
The reason that we use this oral sedation technique is because of its safety. The pill that we use is a common sleeping pill. In 1996, for example, 1,700,000 of these pills were taken by people, not on an annual basis, not on a monthly basis but on a daily basis. An average of 1.7 million of these sleeping pills were taken daily. The 1996 total was 621,000,000 tablets taken. The vast majority of these tablets were taken by patients at home to help them sleep at night. We give our patients more than they would take at home but we use state of the art hospital type monitoring equipment to assess the patients pulse, oxygen saturation in the blood, and blood pressure.
The only thing standing between you and getting the dental care you want is a couple of tablets of medication. It couldn’t be simpler.