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What Is Sedation Dentistry?

By Expert Author: Loraine Ellery

The field of dentistry has made great advancements in the last decade and one of its most important achievements is sedation dentistry; A procedure that allows a trained cosmetic dentist to create a comfortable and safe environment so that patients do not avoid visiting the dentist due to time restrictions or out of fear. The dentist effectively provides his or her services by making the patient as relaxed as possible using well established, proven procedures and a panoply of sedation medications. These medications are administered under the tongue (sublingually) and orally among other methods depending on the procedures being performed.

Also referred to as ‘anxiety free’, ‘sleep’, or ‘relaxation’ dentistry, this comfortable dental care is now provided by numerous trained dental practitioners throughout U.S. and Canada during procedures such as tooth extraction, root canal procedure and dental implants among others. As a result of these comfortable treatments, the number of people receiving dental care has increased significantly.

The primary purpose is to make patients relax by slowing down the function of the central nervous system. While the patients remain conscious, they become less responsive to external stimuli such as the smell of materials and the sound of the drill. It also reduces patients’ sensitivity to pain and makes them less anxious. Doctors use a wide variety of sedatives because the effect of different sedatives varies with individuals. These sedatives are not addictive and do not carry many side effects. Also, some sedatives take effect quickly but fade in potency as fast, while others may last for a few hours. Sedation dentistry practitioners make several considerations before deciding which medication to use on a patient.

An orthodontist can administer sedatives to patients in any one of a number of ways – intravenously, through the rectum, through the nose, under the tongue and orally. Majority of people that undergo dental procedures involving sedation typically take the medication orally. As a matter of fact, doctors prescribe millions of oral sedatives every day.

After receiving the sedatives, most patients feel more relaxed and calmer. However, it is worth noting that these drugs are aimed at sedating patients along a continuum. They can be mild, moderate or can make the patient completely unconscious depending on the procedure the cosmetic dentist intends to perform. Patients are usually given mild to moderate sedatives for standard dental procedures when they receive dental services. General anesthesia that puts the patient to sleep is more common in hospital during major operations.

Up to 20% of patients are afraid of the dentist. For these individuals, sedative medication makes dental care procedures more tolerable. When these people are comfortable but still awake, the dentist and his or her team can proceed to provide their services more efficiently. Sedation dentists can usually perform several operations in a day without compromising on quality. Many working professionals have found these medicated procedures very beneficial as they easily fit into their busy schedules. They are able to receive necessary dental treatments in as little as one visit.

Loraine Ellery is the author of this article on Dr. Charles McCluer.
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