Saturday, September 1 2012 12:00

Relax – in the Dentist’s Chair? Discover Oral Sedation Dentistry

Written by Dr. Eric N. Shelly & Dr. Eric Fort, West Chester Dental Arts

I’m too busy. My toothache isn’t serious. I’ll reschedule my appointment for sometime next month.

  Sound familiar?

  Dentophobia—fear of dentists—affects more than 75% of adults in the United States. This fear often causes patients to become anxious and make excuses to avoid getting needed care and routine checkups—checkups that are vital for a healthy smile and overall oral health.

  But, you can finally relax. With the help of Oral Sedation Dentistry, there’s no need to fear the dentist’s chair any longer.

What is Oral Sedation Dentistry?

  Oral Sedation Dentistry uses medication to help patients relax during routine procedures so they are less tense, fearful and uncomfortable. And some find the added benefit of less soreness after their dental treatments, a boon for those with low pain tolerance.

  There’s a range of options available in sedation dentistry—from the more common inhaling of nitrous oxide to intravenous sedation for extensive procedures. In a popular method of oral sedation, patients are given a small blue pill—Triazolam—that’s taken an hour before their dental procedure. Because of the amnesiac properties of the medication, there’s little or no memory of the visit. Patients are sedated just enough to be unaware of the treatment, as if they were sleeping, and feel refreshed after the treatment is completed.

  Additional medication can be given during the treatment, as needed, to maintain a level of sedation that will allow complex dental procedures to be performed in comfort. A good level of sedation can be sustained for six hours or more. This longer window of sedation is useful for time-consuming procedures, such as replacing crowns and dentures, restoring sore gums to good health, whitening teeth, and even correcting more significant dental problems.

  Without the impediment of fear, patients are more likely to keep their regular dental appointments and maintain the care needed for good dental health.

  Worried about after-effects? Don’t be. Oral Sedation Dentistry is endorsed by the American Dental Association. Patients wake up from sedation refreshed, with little to no memory of the details of the visit.

  And, because you’re completely comfortable, years of needed dental treatment can be completed in one or two visits. Imagine being able to smile with confidence and chew your food without pain—all without the anxiety normally associated with a dental visit.

Who is a Candidate for Sedation Dentistry? 

  People fear going to the dentist for many reasons. Perhaps they had a bad experience as a child. Or have difficulty getting numb from Novocaine or other injections and get frustrated by the process. Some people hate all shots and needles that may precede dental work, as well as the noises, smells and tastes associated with dental care.  And gag reflexes can make dental treatment very stressful. Add to this embarrassment about these problems.

  Patients who relate to any of these issues are good candidates for Oral Sedation Dentistry.

  Other types of patients who benefit are those who need a large amount of dental work and find it difficult to sit still in a dental chair for a long time. Or they may have busy schedules that prevent many short visits needed for extensive dental procedures and need to have a long visit.

  Many patients having cosmetic treatment opt to have sedation because the visits can be quite long and tedious to endure, and they want the process of the treatment to be as positive as the outcome. Imagine the pleasure of waking up to a brand new, beautiful smile, made even better without the memory of what was required to get it!

  You should consult your entire dental team to determine if you’re a good candidate for Oral Sedation Dentistry and to discuss any medications or medical treatments you are receiving. That team consists of you—the patient—your dentist, hygienist, surgical team and dental lab.

  Good teamwork will achieve a good, final result—a happy, healthy, comfortable and functional smile without fear. -CL-

Dr. Eric N. Shelly and Dr. Eric Fort, both graduates of the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, have over 30 years of combined experience practicing complex, comprehensive, restorative dentistry and additional training in sedation services. The team at West Chester Dental Arts is dedicated to the service and comfort of their patients. Web site.