Many patients experience fear and anxiety around going to the dentist. While virtually nobody looks forward to a root canal, some individuals experience debilitating nervousness even with routine checkups and cleanings. In fact, there are a number of people whose serious anxiety prevents them from seeking proper preventative care and dental treatment. Sedation dentistry is an excellent option for patients who fear the dentist, but you may naturally be worried about its potential safety. The experienced Arlington cosmetic dentists at Galleria Dental Aesthetics are experts in sedation dentistry and would be happy to address any concerns you may have.
WHAT IS SEDATION DENTISTRY?
Sedation dentistry, involves performing dental procedures while the patient is sedated. This is done by administering a sedative medication to help the patient stay calm and anxiety free during the procedure. This approach offers numerous advantages for patients who experience anxiety in the dental office:
- The option of sedation encourages patients who might otherwise avoid the dentist to get the oral care they need.
- Sedation lets patients relax and be comfortable while the dentist performs the necessary procedures.
- Because a sedated patient is easier to work on than one who is on edge, the dentist is able to perform his or her work more efficiently and safely.
Even if you aren’t particularly afraid of going to the dentist, sedation dentistry can make you more comfortable during certain kinds of dental procedures.
CANDIDATE FOR SEDATION DENTISTRY
You may want to consider sedation dentistry if you experience or have:
- Dental phobia (a high level of anxiety or fear when going to the dentist)
- Need more extensive dental work, or elect to undergo several dental procedures simultaneously
- Want to get your dentistry done in fewer visits
- Have back or neck problems
- Chronic soreness in your jaw
- Trouble becoming numb during dental procedures
- Strong gag reflex
- Health problems that keep you from seeking dental care
Our team of board certified anesthesiologists offers the latest sedation dentistry options so that you can comfortably get the dental care you need. Our dentists are also members of the Dental Organization for Conscious Sedation (DOCS) and have the advanced training to offer oral conscious sedation and intravenous (IV) conscious sedation.
TYPES OF SEDATION DENTISTRY
There are three primary types of sedation available for calming dental anxiety. They are:
- Oral Conscious Sedation – Patient takes a pill or other type of oral sedative.
- IV Conscious Sedation – A board certified anesthesiologists administer medications directly into the blood stream with immediate effect.
- Sedation and Anesthetic Injections – A local anesthetic is administered to block pain and is administered only after patient is comfortably sedated.
At Galleria Dental Aesthetics we only offer oral conscious sedation and IV sedation. There are a number of successful options that work in terms of sedation dentistry. The key is to consult with an experienced sedation dentist to discover the right choice for your unique situation. Every patient is different and people have individual pain thresholds. You and your dentist can coordinate a hand signal so that your treatment is administered gradually, and at levels you are most comfortable with.
ORAL CONSCIOUS SEDATION
Oral conscious sedation is the simplest form of sedation. Our dentists perform oral conscious sedation by administering a pill or or oral sedative. The patient will take the pill before the procedure, and wait for the effects to kick in. You’ll remain awake, but you’ll enjoy a peaceful state of relaxation while our dentists complete your procedure. Patients who receive oral sedatives require a ride to and from our office, as the medication’s effects do not permit operation of a motor vehicle.
IV CONSCIOUS SEDATION
Intravenous (IV) conscious sedation involves intravenously introducing liquid sedatives directly into the bloodstream. This allows our board-certified anesthesiologists much more precision in delivering, monitoring, and adjusting your level of sedation. As with the oral sedative option, you’ll remain awake and able to communicate, but you’ll feel pleasantly relaxed.
Advantages of IV sedation are:
- Additional medication can be administered in the event the desired level of conscious sedation is not achieved
- The effects are immediate
- The drugs used for IV sedation are more effective than the same drugs taken orally
- You are still able to communicate with the doctor during the procedure
- Upon completion of treatment, “waking up” occurs relatively quickly
SEDATION AND ANESTHETIC INJECTIONS
Sedation dentistry isn’t the same as local anesthetic injections. In fact, you may require a local anesthetic to block pain, but the injection is given after you are comfortable and sedated. In most cases, you won’t remember the injection and it won’t bother you.
I had tetracycline staining on most of my teeth. That, along with holes from orthodontia and lots of overlapping left me with a less than perfect smile. When Dr. Lee explained what could be done and how eight veneers could totally transform my look, I decided to go for it. Now I feel so much better about my appearance. I have more confidence because I feel more comfortable. And I really think people listen to me more than they ever did before. I tell people that if they can afford it, then they should do it. I’m glad I did. – Brian
Don’t let anxiety keep you from getting the perfect smile you want. To learn more about the safety of sedation dentistry and your options, please contact us at 703.448.1020 and our staff will be happy to answer any question you may have.
SLEEP DENTISTRY VS. SEDATION DENTISTRY
Sometimes sedation dentistry and sleep dentistry terms are used interchangeably. Sleep dentistry is a bit of a misnomer because you do not actually sleep during sedation dentistry. Sedation dentistry is actually conscious sedation, meaning that you may become drowsy but remain awake during the entire dental procedure. However, it is true that many patients do not remember many of the specific aspects of the procedures.
IS SEDATION DENTISTRY SAFE?
Sedation dentistry enjoys a very safe track record. Our board-certified sedation dentists monitor your vital signs and blood pressure throughout the process to ensure that you remain healthy and alert. Contrary to common misconception, you never fall asleep during sedation dentistry: You merely become very relaxed. Sedation is also highly regulated. In fact, the Virginia Board of Dentistry requires that sedation dentists complete special training in order to offer this service to our patients.
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR SEDATION DENTISTS
Not all dentists provide the same types of sedation methods for their patients. At Galleria Dental Aesthetics, our sedation dentists are members of the Dental Organization for Conscious Sedation (DOCS) and are trained to offer Oral Conscious Sedation as well as our association with a group of board certified anesthesiologist that provide Intravenous (IV) Conscious Sedation. If you are researching different sedation dentists, here are several questions you should ask:
- How long has the dentist been performing sedation techniques?
- What types of sedation does the practice offer?
- What level of dental sedation can you expect?
- How often are the different types of sedation options actually performed in the office?
- Does the dentist have a board certified anesthesiologist available for IV sedation?
- If necessary, can multiple dental procedures be performed during one sedation visit?
- Does the dentist inquire about your current medical conditions, what medications you are taking and any allergic reactions you have had in the past?
- Does the dentist provide sedation dentistry for children, adults or special needs patients, if applicable?
- What special accommodations will you need to make after receiving sedation dentistry, such as having a friend or family member drive you home?
SCHEDULE A CONSULTATION
At Galleria Dental Aesthetics we do everything possible to ensure that you have the most pleasant visit possible at our office. However, regardless of the VIP treatments we offer and personal attention we provide, some patients are frightened or anxious about undergoing dental procedures. Our sedation dentistry options help to alleviate some of those fears and allow patients to receive the cosmetic dentistry treatments they need to get the smile they’ve dreamed of having.
Sedation dentistry is a safe and effective way to get the dental care you need, comfortably and with minimal stress. Find out if sedation dentistry is a good option for you. Please contact or call 703.448.1020 to schedule a consultation with our sedation dentists at Galleria Dental Aesthetics in Northern Virginia.