A lot of people hear about sedation dentistry and wonder what exactly a conscious sedation dentist does. These patients may have a dental phobia, low pain tolerance, multiple dental procedures lined up, or simply might want their dental session to go by quicker.
That's, fortunately, what sedation dentistry is all about. A conscious sedation dentist often uses a combination of oral sedatives and topical anesthetics to help patients relax during their procedure. All of this while the patient is conscious and functional, hence the name conscious sedation.
Five Useful Tips to Follow
In fact, a conscious sedation dentist follows a set of sedation and pain-relief guidelines outlined by the American Dental Association.
What do these guidelines cover? In essence, sedation dentists are taught to give local anesthetics and sedatives that provide patients with minimal sedation that keeps the patient independent and autonomous, yet pain-free throughout the dental procedures.
- Tip #1: Talk to Your Sedation Dentist
Inducing minimal sedation - pain-relief for adult patients that leaves the patient able to talk and respond to tactile stimulation - is taught in ADA-approved programs around the country because it allows the patient to tailor the dose to his or her pain-relief and anxiety-management needs.
Although the sedation dentist has years of experience meting out dosages for adults and will consult with you before the procedure(s), talking with your sedation dentist is the surest way of getting the dosage precisely right for your needs.
This means getting both the level of local anesthesia and oral sedation exactly calibrated for pain and anxiety relief.
After giving the local anesthetic, the on-site sedation dentist will ask you if you still feel any pain in your mouth. It's absolutely critical to speak up and tell the truth to your sedation dentist so that s/he can help you. The fact that patients are minimally sedated and in-control makes this kind of tailor-made pain and anxiety relief possible.
- Tip #2: Take Along a Friend
Millions of Americans have anxiety over dental procedures (dental anxiety) or an outright fear of the dentist (dental phobia). Perhaps because patients haven't yet found the perfect dentist for their needs or due to a traumatic prior experience, many people have unnecessary trepidation over sitting in a dental chair.
Yet other patients are ashamed over the condition of their teeth, worried about dental procedures they have scheduled yet have never had before, or concerned about impending dental pain.
As we've already seen, though, the fact that you can talk with your dentist during the session itself should keep patients' anxiety at bay. Many patients decide to bring along a family member or trusted friend in order to get a little more support and reassurance during their session.
- Tip #3: Use Psychology to Your Advantage
Depending on your anxiety levels, you might want to start by simply penciling in an appointment, then coming in for a dental checkup. In line with a therapeutic concept known as systematic desensitization, slow exposure gradually chips away at your dental anxiety and leaves you more relaxed.
Occupy your Mind
There's also an expression that "idle time is the devil's playground," and that can certainly be true of some patients twiddling their thumbs in the waiting room. Try bringing along a book or crossword puzzle to keep your mind occupied.
- Tip #4: Consider a Friendly Chauffeur
Since oral sedatives, and sometimes quickly metabolized nitrous oxide, are the two most effective forms of minimal sedation, you'll want to have a driver take you to and from your sedation dentistry session.
Because sedation dentists can work with patients in real-time to get the dosage right via incremental dosing until the patient's comfortable, patients may find themselves too relaxed to drive after a session.
While sedation dentistry, indeed, puts patients in a state of minimal sedation, it also puts them in a state of mind they may not be used to driving in. Getting a family member or friend to take the wheel is a great idea.
- Tip #5: Choose Appropriate Sedation
When you're in a conscious sedation dentist's office, you're never alone. Patients choose the level of sedation attuned to patients': general health and known medical conditions; anxiety and pain management needs; age; and, the type of procedure(s) that they're undergoing.
A small amount of dental anxiety coupled with a routine cleaning might simply call for light oral sedation while patients having a cavity filled might benefit from nitrous oxide sedation.
Tailoring the type and amount of sedation to the patient is what sedation dentistry is all about. With that in mind, would your next dental visit be more stress-free by going to a sedation dentist?