Are you someone or do you know someone who is afraid of visiting the dentist? These fears (known at dental anxiety or dental phobia) are often driven by poor representations of dentistry in popular culture and by unpleasant stories passed down over the generations.
However, we, at Stellar Dental, have adapted by offering a unique solution to these patients — sedation dentistry. Dr. Allen Gotora is fully certified to provide sedation dentistry services to patients in Maryland.
What is sedation dentistry?
Sedation dentistry, as you can probably infer from the name, describes situations in which a dentist will sedate a patient with the goal of relieving any fear or anxiety that the patient might be feeling. Sedation dentistry is different from the local anesthetic used to numb your mouth during procedures. The former is performed chiefly to assure a patient’s mental state whereas the latter is applied to prevent pain during an actual procedure.
What Types of Sedation are There?
Depending on each patient’s situation, different levels of sedation may be necessary. The different levels of sedation include:
- Minimal sedation: Patients who choose minimal sedation will be awake, but chemically relaxed during the procedure. He or she will remember all of the procedure, so this level of sedation is typically administered to patients who feel some nervousness, but who can go through the procedure with minimal aid.
- Moderate sedation (or conscious sedation): Moderate sedation, or conscious sedation, is one of the more common types of sedation dentistry chosen. Patients who undergo conscious sedation will be conscious during the procedure, but may slur their words and may have fleeting memories of the procedure. Moderate sedation is recommended for most patients because it allows them to go through the procedure in a semi-awake state without the stress typically associated with active dental treatment.
- Deep sedation: Patients who undergo deep sedation, on the other hand, typically drift on the edge of consciousness, not quite aware of the dental procedure, but conscious enough to be awakened if needed. Thus, patients who opt for deep sedation will remember little to nothing of the procedure and will need a few hours to recover afterwards.
- General anesthesia: Finally, general anesthesia is the deepest level of sedation a dental patient can choose. Those under general anesthesia are completely unconscious during the procedure. Typically, general anesthesia is necessary only for patients who have experienced serious trauma from dental procedures, or where multiple treatments need to be performed at once.
Furthermore, patients who choose sedation dentistry can receive the sedative in a number of different ways. These include:
- Oral sedation: Various medications that induce different levels of sedation exist on the market. However, each dental practice will carry different types of sedation drugs. Ask Dr. Gotora what options are available to you as one of the first steps to seeing if this is a good fit for you.
- Gas (laughing gas): Sedatives can also exist in gaseous form. For example, “laughing gas” is a common sedation method administered through a mask placed over the mouth and nose. This is quite safe and can even be used with children.
- Intravenous therapy: Furthermore, your dentist can use intravenous therapy (IV) to administer a sedative. While this may seem daunting at first, IV therapy has the benefit of being adjustable mid-procedure — your dentist can monitor your status and alter the amount of sedative you receive accordingly.
Note that every dental practice will likely have different types of sedation dentistry available. You should confirm with Dr. Gotora which forms of sedation you could receive should you be considering being sedated during a procedure.
Why might sedation dentistry be necessary?
As we mentioned briefly above, sedation dentistry is typically performed for patients who experience stress, fear, or anxiety during dental procedures. Because these fears can often be a barrier to getting the oral health treatments a patient needs, sedation dentistry is a crucial aspect of dentistry that assures the health of all patients.
You might not be someone who fears dentistry as a general rule, but some dental procedures (like tooth extractions) can be quite intimidating even for someone who’s prepared for it. This is why sedation dentistry is sometimes recommended for patients who might not have displayed prior fear or anxiety.
Furthermore, sedation dentistry can be used in situations where a procedure may be extremely lengthy. Holding still for a complex dental procedure like wisdom tooth extraction or placement of multiple dental implants could be a trial for some patients, and minimal, conscious, or IV sedation could be a good way to keep calm and relaxed during the procedure. This will all be discussed with you in the treatment planning stages.
If you’ve experienced fear or anxiety while visiting the dentist, you should contact Dr. Allen Gotora from Stellar Dental to see if you could benefit from the sedation dentistry we provide. Just call (301) 754-1900 or visit our website to set up a time to talk to Dr. Gotora today!