Sedation dentistry is used to provide a relaxing and anxiety-free experience for certain people receiving dental treatment. It enables individuals too afraid to go to the dentist to receive the dental care they need while avoiding the common apprehension known as dental phobia.
According to to the Dental Organization for Conscious Sedation (DOCS Education), a professional dental organization dedicated to ensuring that patients receive safe, comfortable and anxiety-free dental care, 30 percent of the population avoids the dentist due to fear. This all-too-common “dental phobia” prevents people from receiving necessary routine dental care, potentially compromising the health and functionality of their mouth and smile.
A Fast, Minimally Invasive Cosmetic Option
Dental bonding uses white, tooth-colored materials like those used in cosmetic fillings. In the case of a misshaped tooth or surface irregularity, the enamel is gently conditioned and the composite is formed over the area into the preferred shape. Once achieved, Michelle Eng, DDS uses a bright ultraviolet light to cure the material, so that it is permanently bonded to the tooth.
In most situations, local anesthetic (numbing) isn’t even necessary!
What Is Sedation?
Sedation is a process used to establish a relaxed, easy and calm state through the use of sedatives. Sedative drugs (tranquilizers, depressants, anti-anxiety medications, nitrous oxide, etc.) can be administered in a variety of ways. In the past, intravenous (IV) sedation – sedatives delivered via injection into the blood vessels of the hand or arm – was predominantly used to sedate a dental patient.
IV sedation is both safe and effective when administered by a trained professional. Today, however, sedation dentistry has evolved to be even more conducive to a relaxing experience. Patients have alternatives to the traditional modalities of inhalation (nitrous oxide or “laughing gas”) and IVs, such as those offering a “no needle” (meaning, no injection) approach that many people find more appealing.
Oral sedation dentistry is now the most common technique used in the United States and Canada to quell patient fears. The technique is easy and requires no needles. Best of all, the medications create such a comfortable experience that most patients do not remember the visit; it is as if they slept through the treatment. In reality, oral sedation dentistry maintains a level of consciousness in the patient for safety and cooperation. Note that sedation is different from anesthetic injections. Although some forms of sedation (such as nitrous oxide gas) may raise your threshold for pain, most dental treatments still require a local anesthetic injected in the mouth, even when sedation dentistry techniques are performed.
Sedation Dentistry Modalities
The sedative methods used for sedation dentistry vary in strength and purpose. Your dentist will select the sedation dentistry option that is best for you based on the treatments performed, how long these procedures will take and your level of anxiety. Although your dentist will ultimately determine what sedatives will be used, you can request stronger sedatives if you suffer from severe anxiety.
Levels of sedation range from mild, to moderate, to deep and are achieved through different types of sedatives. According to the Academy of General Dentistry, sedation is safe, but it is important for patients to talk to their dentist about what is involved and expected before the procedure. In order to ensure that the appropriate sedatives are used, your sedation dentist will require a medical history and list of all medications you are taking – including over the counter products and herbal supplements.
One of the major benefits of sedation dentistry is that people often feel like their dental procedure lasts only a few minutes, when in fact it might have taken hours to perform. Therefore, complex dental procedures such as smile makeovers or extensive rebuilding procedures that normally require multiple visits can often be performed in fewer appointments.
If you are reluctant to change the appearance of your smile because you are afraid or anxious about undergoing long or complicated dental procedures, sedation dentistry can make you feel comfortable during the treatment process and help you achieve a smile you can be proud of.
Sleep Dentistry or Sedation Dentistry?
Sedation dentistry has occasionally been dubbed sleep dentistry, but this term is misleading. In actual fact, you do not sleep during the procedure, but because of the effects produced by the sedative, you may feel sleepy.
Sedation dentistry enables you to be kept awake throughout the entire procedure, but you will feel relaxed and likely won’t remember much about your treatment. The use of general anesthesia is not considered sedation dentistry.
According to DOCS Education, insurance companies do not pay for sedation; however, some non-intravenous sedation procedure codes may apply to your treatment.
For example, if you are undergoing periodontal scaling and root planing of all four quadrants of your mouth, insurance companies may cover the costs of this procedure if it is completed in one appointment if you are sedated, rather than requiring you to stretch out the procedure to four separate appointments.
Nervous? We Have Something for That Too
Ask about our safe and comfortable sedation options to help you relax throughout your smile makeover or other dental work. We’re here to help you feel comfortable! Flexible financing plans are available. Contact Michelle Eng, DDS in Aliso Viejo to schedule your smile makeover consultation.