What Is It?
Many people experience anxiety about undergoing dental work or even visiting the dentist at all, a fear known as dental phobia. This can keep them from seeking proper dental care and may be compromising their dental health. Relief for patients with dental phobia is now available through sedation dentistry.
Sedation dentistry involves the use of medication to provide a relaxing and anxiety-free experience for people undergoing dental treatment. Although sometimes referred to as “sleep dentistry,” most patients remain awake after taking sedation medication and experience a sleepy feeling. There are several different methods available to achieve varying degrees of sedation, all depending on the type of procedure and preference of the patient.
Different Than Anesthesia
Although sedation produces a relaxed state, it does not produce the same effect as anesthesia, which is used for most dental procedures. Patients will still require local anesthesia through injection to help reduce the pain of the procedure. Sedation simply helps relieve the nerves and anxiety that often accompany seeing a dentist. The anesthesia is usually injected after the patient is sedated to reduce anxiety about the actual injection.
Benefits of Sedation Dentistry
Many people are uneasy at just the thought of undergoing dental work. Sedation allows people to gain a sense of comfort about these often complex and lengthy procedures. It may also influence some patients to undergo elective procedures that they may have been apprehensive about before. Sedation dentistry lets patients feel as though their lengthy procedures last for only a few minutes.
Patients that benefit from sedation dentistry include those who:
- Have a low pain threshold
- Have sensitive teeth
- Can’t sit still in the dentist’s chair
- Have a bad gag reflex
- Need a large amount of dental work done
Types of Dental Sedation
Sedation can be administered through several different methods, depending on the overall health and level of relaxation required by the patient. Most patients use nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, to achieve the relaxed sensation they desire. This is achieved by placing a mask over the nose that lets the patient breathe in the gas. The sedated feelings begin anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes after inhaling. Numbness throughout the cheeks and gums also begins quickly. Other methods of sedation can be delivered orally or intravenously.
Depending on a patient’s anxiety levels, different degrees of dental sedation may be required. These varying degrees include:
- Conscious Sedation – Most dentists use conscious sedation, a state that lets patients feel relaxed but also remain awake and able to respond to commands. You will not remember most of the procedure with this sedation.
- Deep Sedation – Patients with higher anxiety levels may feel more comfortable with deep sedation, which provides a state somewhere between consciousness and unconsciousness. In this state, patients cannot respond to commands and may need breathing assistance.
- Unconsciousness – An unconscious state is also occasionally obtained but requires general anesthesia and brings about added risks. This is usually only used for oral surgery.
Risks of Sedation Dentistry
Although the risk of using sedation is low, mild side effects can occur. Some patients may experience nausea, drowsiness or lightheadedness. IV sedation is not recommended for patients who are claustrophobic, have a blocked nasal passage, are obese or have obstructive sleep apnea. Because of potential side effects and the length of sedation, you may need someone to drive you home once your procedure is complete.
It is important to discuss the individual risks of sedation dentistry with your doctor, who can help you decide if you can benefit from this technique.
Sedation Dentistry F.A.Q.
Q. How do dentists become certified in sedation and how long does it take?
A. Completion of a mini-residency is necessary. Conscious sedation permit requirements vary slightly from state to state, but typically a mini-residency with a minimum of 60 hours of didactic/classroom education and direct participation in administering IV sedation to 20 to 30 clinical dental cases will cover most state requirements. Dr. Wilbanks is one of only 258 dentists certified in the state of Georgia to provide IV conscious sedation service. The differences in oral conscious sedation and IV conscious sedation are: the training requirement of 100 hours of continuing education credits; safety and the ability to regulate the amount of sedation and medication to keep the patient comfortable, which is not possible in oral sedation; the patient is monitored throughout the procedure with a vital sign monitor; and the facility has to be certified by the state.
Q. What specific types of patients benefit the most from using sedation?
A. A wide variety of patients benefit from sedation. These patients include patients with dental phobias or ones who had a previous traumatic dental experience, extremely anxious patients, patients with major dental neglect, patients who are having their wisdom teeth removed or other dental surgery, patients with mental deficiencies, strong gag reflexes, and those dealing with restless leg syndrome or other neurological issues.
Q. How do patients benefit from having access to sedation dentistry?
A. Sedation dentistry access can be beneficial for almost any patient, but especially those who suffer from dental phobia, and in many instances, those who may require extensive repair. Often for these patients, sedation gives them the feeling that their dental procedure lasted only a few minutes, when in fact it might have taken hours to perform. Therefore, complex dental procedures such as implant placement, wisdom tooth removal, bone grafts, or extensive rebuilding procedures that normally require multiple visits can often be performed in fewer appointments.
Q. How does implementing sedation dentistry help dentists and their teams enhance their level of care?
A. With a relaxed patient, the dentist and his team can concentrate on performing the dental procedure with more accuracy, without having to worry about patient movements, gagging, or the patient feeling discomfort during the procedure. It can also help to reduce the post-operative discomfort and healing time for patients.
More About Sedation
Who is an ideal candidate for sedation dentistry?
Patients who experience a high level of dental anxiety or avoid going to the dentist may be good candidates for sedation dentistry. You may also be a candidate if you have:
- Had a traumatic dental experience in the past
- Difficulty getting numb
- Limited time to complete your dental treatment plan
- More complex dental problems
- Very sensitive teeth
- A bad gag reflex
- An aversion to being at the dentist’s office
- Embarrassment about your teeth
What types of sedation options are available?
Many patients experience dental anxiety before they even settle in the dentist’s chair and have a hard time feeling comfortable. Sedation dentistry can help. Dr. Joe Wilbanks offers the following types of services:
- Intravenous (IV) Conscious Sedation
- Oral Sedation
- Nitrous Oxide
Sedation Dentistry Can Relieve Dental Anxiety!
Many people have dental anxiety because of bad experiences in the past or because they have an aversion to the smells and noises in the dental office environment. We understand that these feelings can hold you back from getting the treatment you need and deserve, and we are here to help! We offer sedation dentistry services to make every visit with us comfortable and relaxing. Sedation can help patients stick with their treatment plan and enable them to achieve and maintain better oral health.
Sedation dentistry could be just what you need to stay on track with your treatment plan. We offer several different forms of sedation and the flexibility to control various levels of sedation depending on the extent of dental anxiety you are experiencing. Some patients benefit greatly from oral sedation, while others need something that provides a deeper state of relaxation, such as intravenous (IV) conscious sedation.
Am I a good candidate for oral sedation?
Many people have dental fears to the extent that they do not even make that much needed appointment with the dentist! If this sounds like you, talk to Dr. Joe Wilbanks about oral sedation dentistry that can alleviate your dental fears and help you stick with your treatment plan. Some of the best candidates for oral sedation include patients who have:
- Difficulty getting numb
- Aversion to the noises and smells in the dental office setting
- Embarrassment or fear about their teeth
- Sensitive teeth
- Bad gag reflex
- Fear of needles and shots
What are the benefits of oral sedation?
We offer several types of sedation dentistry services at our office. Oral sedation may be the best option for patients who have some dental fears or anxiety about coming in to the office. Oral sedation allows us to reduce your level of anxiety without needles and intravenous injections. Most patients feel very calm and relaxed throughout treatment.
We may recommend oral sedation for patients with dental fears and for those who are hesitating to book their next appointment! Oral sedation involves taking a prescribed pill one hour prior to your visit, which will help you feel relaxed and calm before and during your procedure. We do monitor your vital signs to ensure your health and safety are not compromised during treatment. You will need someone to drive you home after your appointment because you will still feel drowsy. You will most likely sleep for a few hours as the medication wears off.
If you have dental fears and are delaying treatment because of anxiety, talk to us about oral sedation. Dr. Wilbanks may recommend sedation dentistry as part of your treatment plan. Schedule your appointment in Toccoa, GA today!
Are you an ideal candidate for IV sedation?
If you experience dental anxiety and have difficulty getting numb, you may be a good candidate for sleep dentistry services like IV sedation. Intravenous sedation can be very effective for patients who have:
- A bad gag reflex
- Sensitive teeth
- Complex dental problems
- An aversion to noises and tastes in the dental office
- Embarrassment about their teeth
- A fear of needles or shots
How does IV sedation work?
IV sedation is effective for patients who have moderate to severe dental anxiety. It is available at our office and is a sleep dentistry option that Dr. Joe Wilbanks may recommend as part of your treatment plan.
If you have been delaying your dental treatments because of dental anxiety or just cannot get over your fear of going to the dentist, talk to us about sleep dentistry treatments like IV sedation. Intravenous conscious sedation is a very effective procedure for managing moderate to severe levels of dental anxiety. It helps patients feel extremely relaxed during treatment and most do not even remember their visits. Drugs are administered intravenously and the depth of sedation is easy to control.
We monitor your blood pressure, blood oxygen level, and heart rate to ensure everything is running smoothly. You are awake during the procedure so you can follow directions, but you will not be able to move or speak much. Dr. Wilbanks has completed the specialized advanced training and certification program required by the state Board of Dental Examiners to provide IV sedation at the office.
If you experience a high level of dental anxiety and have been delaying treatment because of it, talk to us about sleep dentistry services that can help you get the treatment you need. Schedule your appointment in Toccoa, GA with Dr. Wilbanks today!
Am I a good candidate for nitrous oxide sedation?
If you have a fear of going to the dentist or just feel anxious by the thought of getting a dental procedure, you may need a laughing gas dentist who can provide sleep dentistry services. Dr. Wilbanks may recommend nitrous oxide as part of your treatment plan so that you can overcome your dental fears. The best candidates for this type of sedation dentistry are patients with low to moderate levels of anxiety surrounding their dental visits.
How Nitrous Oxide Works
Nitrous oxide is a colorless and odorless gas that you will inhale before and during your procedure. We control how much gas is passed through your system, and most patients feel very relaxed and even euphoric within minutes. You will feel normal as soon as the gas is stopped.
Dr. Wilbanks offers nitrous oxide as one method of sedation dentistry. You may need to work with a laughing gas dentist if you have been putting off your dental treatment for some time or feel extremely anxious when sitting in the dental chair. Otherwise known as “laughing gas,” nitrous oxide is very effective for inducing a state of relaxation and can help you get through your procedure or treatment without anxiety or fear. We can control the amount of gas that you receive and once we turn it off, you will return to normal and be able to drive yourself home. It is a relatively safe treatment option and does not have any negative effects on the organs.
You no longer need to let fear and anxiety come between you and your dental treatment.
If you are looking for a laughing gas dentist in Toccoa, GA, schedule your appointment with Dr. Wilbanks today!