Sedation dentistry has changed the lives of many people who were once too terrified to visit a dentist, let alone, sit in a chair and allow any dental procedures to be performed on them. Dentists now understand dental phobias better and have the tools necessary by way of sedation dentistry.
Nitrous oxide (inhalation sedation) was the first means of helping a patient with dental anxieties and a few dentists recognized just how beneficial it actually was, in terms of patient return visits. In the beginning, it was somewhat sporadic in dental offices. Therefore, the patient would have to do a search to find the few dentists providing this service. The problem with nitrous oxide, not all patients responded in the same way with its use. Depending on a person’s tolerance level to the laughing gas, the patient’s anxiety level and the dentist’s determination as to the dosage can vary widely, causing patients to have different responses to inhalation sedation. Nevertheless, there were still a lot of examples where it truly did help some patients with their anxiety issues.
During this time, the dental schools began incorporating chair side manners and the importance of a patient’s comfort level. They were also learning that there were mostly likely many reasons why some patients were so terrified of dental procedures.
Some dentists started seriously studying dental phobias and how to approach some of the fears that a patient experiences. They were also learning just how important it was to provide preventative treatment to their patients. The actual health to a patient can be compromised due to infections in the form of abscesses. These infections can cause heart problems and even spread to the brain in some serious cases.
Dental schools continued to evolve with time and new laser equipment and procedures were developed for the dental office. Cosmetic and reconstructive dentistry started becoming big business with everyone wanting a Hollywood smile.
With everything dentists were learning, enter conscious sedation dentistry. For patients that nitrous oxide didn’t quite work well enough, the dentist would start prescribing valium, a very good medication to relieve anxiety or Halcion, a sleeping pill that was found to be very effective too for relaxing the patient for the dental appointment. Halcion not only provides a deep level of relaxation, but also an amnesia effect. Children are given Versed in a liquid form, which also provides a deep relaxation and the amnesia effect. For adults, combining nitrous oxide with other oral drugs for conscious sedation is very effective for some patients too.
In the dental bag for dentists who have had specialized training and certification, IV sedation (deep conscious sedation) is available. Oral surgeons who provide major surgical procedures requiring sedation and pain relief use this type of dental sedation.
Sedation dentistry has come a long way and is very effective for patients with varying degrees of anxiety. Now the dentist can complete full mouth cosmetic and restorative procedures in just one visit, without any ill effects on the patient.