Submitted by: Dr. Joseph Wilbanks
Perhaps you have thought while having dental work done-Wouldnt it be great if I didnt have to be awake for this, that I could just go to sleep and wake up when this was all done? Now that thought has become a reality with sedation dentistry. However, sedation dentistry is not for everyone, so how do you know if sedation dentistry is right for you?
Sedation dentistry is where the patient is sedated just enough to be unaware of the treatment just as if they were napping. This is often done because of fear or anxiety of the treatment or to shorten the number of visits and time involved for a complicated procedure. The patient wakes refreshed with little or no memory of what dental work was accomplished. Many dentists prefer this type of treatment because their patients are not just completely comfortable but also completely free of anxieties. Many dentists also like sedation dentistry because literally what could take years of dental treatments can be done in one or two visits. Some of these procedures done under sedation dentistry are: replacing crowns or dentures, restoring sore gums to good health, whitening yellowed or stained teeth, fixing chipped teeth and more.
Some general dentists have chosen to market themselves as sedation or sleep dentists. The vast majority of these dentists are offering only oral medications and/or inhalation agents. This is not considered true sedation dentistry. The patient is not asleep nor should they be when these types of medications are used. While these methods of sedation work well for some patients they are not appropriate for all patients. Many patients who can not physically or behaviorally cooperate with dentist should consider using complete sedation for their dental work. These at-risk patients could be at even greater risk if they are treated in a general dentistry practice without the right equipment or experience to deal with potential medical complications. In these cases, intravenous sedation or general anesthesia are the safer sedation solutions.
A sedation dentist should be willing to work with each patient individually to determine the most appropriate sedation approach. An experienced anesthesiologist should be the one administering the I.V. sedation and / or general anesthesia. Safety should be the utmost priority for any patient whether they have normal dental needs or are a medically or emotionally compromised patient.
When considering using a sedation dentist there are some basic questions you should ask before proceeding with any dental treatment. Here are a few-
Question: What types of anesthesia do you offer?
Answer: Most sedation dentists will be able to offer a full array of anesthesia from oral medication to general anesthesia. These should include oral sedation, nitrous oxide, IV sedation, and general anesthesia. The type of anesthesia used should be the one best suited to your case. This is not a one size fits all situation.
Question: How long before I can return to work or normal activities?
Answer: Most people should be able to return to normal activities after one day of rest. If your dentist feels differently be sure and ask why.
Question: Will I have to spend the night in the hospital?
Answer: In a complicated case requiring extensive care under general anesthesia, you may spend one night in the hospital to monitor your health and have a comfortable recovery. Your sedation dentist should be able to explain the extent of follow-up monitoring you will need.
Question: May I bring someone to your office during my visits?
Answer: Sedation dentists actually want you to bring someone you feel comfortable with. Also you may need someone to help you get home or drive since you may feel some drowsy aftereffects from the anesthesia.
Question: My family member is severely disabled? Is sedation dentistry for them?
Answer: Many disabled people can benefit directly from using sedation dentistry. For example a patient with cerebral palsy may have no fear but be unable to cooperate with the dentist physically while an autistic child may be extremely fearful and unable to behave during the dental treatment. Both of these types of patients can benefit from sedation dentistry.
About the Author: Dr. Joseph Wilbanks, DDS, is a leading dentist in Toccoa, Georgia. Dr. Wilbanks specializes in Toccoa Smile Makeovers, Dental Implants and Sedation Dentistry. Visit us for more information
or call (706) 886-9439.
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