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How Sedation Dentistry Helps Patients Every Day

There’s twenty-four hours to go until your dental appointment, and you’re already feeling nervous. Maybe your hands are shaking, or your stomach is turning. Visiting a dentist at least once every six months is essential for your oral health, but what options do you have when the very idea of walking into an office makes you want to run away to the nearest airport?

What is Sedation Dentistry?

Simply put, sedation dentistry is where sedatives are used to help a patient relax during their dental appointment. According to a study from the National Institutes of Health (a U.S. body), up to 60% of the population experiences some manner of dental anxiety, making sedation dentistry a useful resource for many patients across North America.

There are different levels of sedation that can be tailored to each person’s individual needs and requirements, so you don’t need to commit to full unconsciousness for a checkup or cleaning. Your dentist will work with you to figure out which form of sedation is most appropriate.

  • Light sedation – This form of sedation allows you to stay awake and alert, but it also allows you to relax. You’ll be able to carry on a conversation and respond to questions that the dentist asks, but you won’t be nervous or worried.
  • Conscious sedation – This is a bit heavier form of sedation. You’ll be awake, but you’ll likely slur your words when you speak, and you may not remember the procedure afterward. You’ll receive a combination sedative and anesthetic. The sedative relaxes your mind in the same way that light sedation does. The anesthetic will help dull or block any pain that you might experience.
  • Deep sedation – Think of deep sedation as a strong urge to nap. Patients would likely be asleep for most of the procedure, but could be woken up when necessary. Currently, we do not offer this particular form of sedation at our practice.
  • General anesthesia – This sedation option is generally reserved for those with extreme anxiety or someone who will require extensive dental work. General anesthesia makes you completely unconscious and mutes your brain’s ability to respond to pain signals or typical bodily reflexes. It’s administered by a trained anesthesiologist who will monitor you and keep you comfortable during the procedure. At our office, patients who require general anesthesia will undergo the procedure at Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre.

If you’d like more information on the types of sedation dentistry we perform, please consult our services page.

Who Benefits from Sedation Dentistry?

There are some patients who aren’t comfortable with staying in one place for a long period of time, or who gag easily during extended dentist visits. There are also those who just don’t care for dental work in general. Sedation dentistry is a way to make these patients more comfortable while their Barrie dentist does the work necessary to ensure their oral health.

Is Sedation Safe?

The short answer is yes, but there are some side effects to be aware of, as with any kind of medication. These typically last a few hours after the procedure finishes and can include drowsiness, headache, feelings of sluggishness, and low blood pressure. If you’ve never been sedated before and you undergo conscious or deep sedation, you’ll want to bring along a friend or family member who can take you home if any side effects make you unable to drive.

For most patients, the side effects are mild enough that sedation is still a desirable option. Sedation dentistry makes it possible for you to go to appointments that you otherwise might skip, allowing you to make good choices for your health without having to undergo unnecessary or unwanted mental stress.

All Right, I’d Like Sedation. How Do I Ask?

Sedation is as simple as letting your Barrie dentist know your preferences. They’ll talk to you about the procedure and your feelings about it, and recommend a level of sedation that would be appropriate for you.

If you’re still not 100% sure whether or not you could benefit from sedation, again: just ask. Be honest with your dentist about your worries. They’ve worked with thousands of patients just like you, and they’ll know what option would be most suitable.

To learn more about the options we provide for sedation dentistry in our Barrie office, you can send us a message online or call us directly at (705) 721-1143.

Dr. Elston Wong Portrait

About Dr. Elston Wong

Dr. Elston Wong completed his dental degree at The University of Toronto in 1999 before arriving in Barrie in 2002. After graduating, he continued to learn everything he could about dentistry. Now he has taken the time to share important information for anyone to read.

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