What is Sedation Dentistry?
Sedation Dentistry is a mild to moderate level of sedation used to assist dental patients with attaining a temporary insensitivity to pain while remaining conscious. Typically, this is used for lengthier procedures and is also found to be very beneficial for patients that suffer from anxiety about having dental work done.
What are the different types of Sedation Used?
There are a few different types of sedation that can be used for dental procedures. The kind of sedation used depends on the treatment or procedure at hand and the level of anxiety the patient suffers from. There are also varying factors such as the patient’s weight and medical history.
Oral Sedation: With oral sedation, a pill is administered about one hour before a procedure so it has time to take effect. Usually, patients will feel tired and dazed. This is considered “minimal sedation”. It is possible to fall asleep while under oral sedation but not common. At most, it would be a light sleep and the patient can be easily awakened. This type of sedation is ideal for patients with fear or anxiety. It will affect memory and motor skills and, accordingly, patients must be advised against driving themselves home.
Inhalation Sedation: This is typically known as “laughing gas”. Nitrous Oxide is administered through a mask or nosepiece. It is a gas and the dosage is controlled by the dentist and begins to take effect almost instantly (within 3 to 5 minutes). This method merely calms the patient to sit through the procedure and may provide mild pain relief. Oral injections can be provided simultaneously with nitrous oxide. Once finished, oxygen is passed through the mask or nosepiece and the nitrous oxide is flushed out of the system. This is also considered “minimal sedation”.
Intravenous Sedation: Sedative Medications are pumped into the veins of a patient and through the bloodstream. This requires the monitoring of blood pressure, oxygen levels, and heart rate and is the most intense form of sedation allowed to be used in a dental office. This is considered “moderate sedation”. Patients typically fall asleep and have no memory of the procedure afterwards. It is not recommended to operate a motor vehicle after intravenous sedation. Patients should be advised to not eat or drink for 6 hours before having intravenous sedation.
General anesthesia can be used in a hospital or ambulatory setting. It is an unconscious sedation, and an anesthesiologist must be present. This is not very common for a dental procedure and cannot be performed in dental office.
When is Sedation Used in Dentistry?
Sedation is usually offered to patients who have some sort of anxiety about a procedure. It is also offered to minimize the amount of pain felt during a procedure. For lengthier or more painful procedures such as root canals, it is always recommended.
Who Can Utilize Sedation Dentistry?
The Florida Board of Dentistry allows dentists to administer a small dose of oral sedation without having advanced training or permitting. A single dose of a medicine is allowed up to the maximum dosage per patient weight. Dentists are also allowed to supplement with nitrous oxide. This is considered “minimal sedation”. Formal advanced training in sedation is required to administer “moderate sedation”. This is done through an internship or an approved course. Dental professionals must complete 60 hours of didactic instruction on a minimum of 20 patients, and an inspection of the office must be performed including a demonstration of an emergency drill before any permit is issued with the Board of Dentistry. To administer “deep sedation” or general anesthesia, a dentist must complete a residency in General Anesthesia an receive a permit from the Board of Dentistry. Pediatric sedation requires a completely separate permit and training requirements.
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