Spotlight: Sedation at Dental Arts of Sunset

It is no secret that a visit to the dentist, especially when coming face to face with the dreaded drill, can be a stressful event. Many patients avoid much needed care rather than deal with the stress of coming to the dentist. If this hits home for you or a loved one READ ON.

The biggest advantage of dental sedation is that you can receive the dental care you need minus the fear and anxiety that goes along with it. We can usually reverse years of dental disease in as little as a single visit. Dental sedation usually comes in one of three flavors:

  1. Nitrous Oxide + Oxygen (i.e. laughing gas). Laughing gas is very popular with those patients who have mild anxiety or maybe just have anxiety about getting “the shot”. It is very popular for hygiene procedures and fillings. It involves breathing the gas through your nose and it really has a pleasant smell to it. This also makes it suitable for children if they will agree to put on the nasal mask. The fact that you can drive home after you are done with no residual effects from the gas makes it really convenient too.
  2. Oral Sedation. This method is for those who require a more profound level of sedation. It works by taking an oral medication (a pill for adults and typically a liquid medication mixed with fruit juice or Gatorade for children). The medication is taken in the reception area about 30 minutes before the procedure. Once the medication begins to take effect the patient is escorted to the treatment room where the dental work can begin. There is usually very little memory of the dental visit afterwards. Advantages of this are that it provides deeper sedation than Nitrous Oxide alone. Disadvantages are that you will need a driver and a caretaker at home to watch over you as you sleep of any residual effects of the medication. Another disadvantage is that some patients (especially those who regularly take Xanax or pain medications) will usually not respond to the oral medication. The converse is also true. Some patients may become over-sedated with a single dose making it necessary to manage the airway.   This can make it difficult to complete all of the planned dentistry. A good history and physical as well as the training and experience of your doctor will determine if you are a good candidate for this type of sedation.
  3. IV Sedation. This last method is considered the gold standard of sedation. It is considered appropriate for those patients who require a more profound level of sedation and perhaps fail to respond to oral sedation. The patient will usually take an oral medication in the reception area (typically a pill for an adult or a liquid mixed with fruit juice or Gatorade for children) and, when they are relaxed, they are escorted to the treatment area and an IV is placed in the arm or hand. Through the IV I am able to give additional medication as needed to get the patient to that perfect level of sedation. This method is preferred because it gives the doctor the most control over your sedation. It is also considered the safest method of sedation available for several reasons: a.) Sedative medications can be reversed through the IV line b.) Medications used are considered cardio-protective, as they tend to lower the blood pressure and heart rate. c.) This technique is ALWAYS employed with the use of a monitor so that blood pressure, heart rate, ECG, respiration, oxygen saturation and end tidal CO2 are constantly being monitored. d.) Unlike laughing gas and oral sedation which usually do not require more than a weekend training course for the doctor, IV sedation requires the doctor to have significant advanced and ongoing training in anesthesiology and advanced airway management in order to provide the service. Other Advantages include predictability of the procedure over oral sedation. Disadvantages include, as with oral sedation, the need for a driver and a caregiver afterwards. Another disadvantage includes finding a provider qualified to perform the procedure. Most Oral and Maxillofacial surgeons are qualified to perform this type of sedation but their scope of work is usually advanced dental surgery and teeth extractions. There are few qualified providers if you require other dental procedures such as fillings, crowns, bridges, root canals, gum treatment etc.

Dental Arts of Sunset provides the entire spectrum of sedation as well as a complete suite of dental services.   Whether your needs are for general dentistry or for surgical interventions such as dental implants, “All on 4”, Teeth Xpress, removal of teeth or others surgical procedures. We can treat the entire family from children through the very elderly as well as special needs patients. If you would like more information do not hesitate to contact us at (305) 274-9656. If you like this article or have questions or comments I would love to hear from you.   Please send your comments as well as any ideas for future stories that interest you. Thanks.