Sedation dentistry is the part of dentistry which involves the use of pharmacological agents to relax and calm the patients before and during the dental treatment. This method enables the patients to undergo dental treatments, while avoiding a common apprehension known as dental phobia. Sedation dentistry treatments should be performed under the supervision of a dentist and staff, trained specifically in sedation procedures. The American Dental Association and many other dental boards and colleges require dentists to have special training in sedative techniques, equipment and medication. Dentists with such training work are known as sedation dentists. Sedation is a process achieved by the use of sedatives. Sedative drugs such as tranquilizers, depressants, nitrous oxide can be administered in a variety of ways. In the past, intravenous (IV) sedation was mostly used to sedate a dental patient.
Sedation is usually obtained by two major routes; enteral and parenteral. Enteral route includes medication swallowed and absorbed through the mucosa of the oral cavity. The parenteral route involves intravenous, submucosal inhalation and intramuscular administration of drugs. Oral sedation is most commonly used in many countries as it is easy and requires no use of needles. Safe practice of sedation dentistry requires the use of monitoring equipment such as pulse oximeter, oxygen equipment and reversal medications in case of any adverse reaction. The monitoring equipment should be readily available in the procedure room. Once the patient has decided to move ahead with sedation, he should review the consent form to know about the details of procedure, equipment and risks and benefits of treatment. An experienced sedation dentist should have a comprehensive consent form and discuss all aspects of treatment with patients.
One of the major benefits of sedation dentistry is that the patient often feels that the dental procedure lasts only a few minutes, although it might have taken hours. Therefore, complex dental procedures such as smile makeover or extensive reconstruction procedures which usually require multiple visits can be performed in a few visits. So, sedation dentistry can make a patient comfortable during the treatment and help them achieve a better smile. As sedation dentistry addresses the fears of patients, such patients are more likely to receive routine dental treatments. As a result, they are less likely to neglect their oral health or allow oral health problems to come to a point, where drastic dental treatments become necessary.
Sedation dentistry is sometimes confused with the term ‘Sleep Dentistry,’ but this term is misleading. The fact is that the patient does not sleep during the procedure; however, the patient may feel sleepy due to the effects of sedative drugs. This method enables the patient to stay awake throughout the entire procedure. Although the patient is awake and comfortable, he does not remember much about the treatment. The use of general anesthesia is not considered in the practice of sedation dentistry. According to the dental organization for conscious sedation, 30 percent of the population avoids dentists due to fear. This common dental phobia prevents people from receiving necessary dental care, potentially compromising the health and function of their mouth and smile. Therefore, it is sedation dentistry which helps patients to receive a safe, comfortable and anxiety-free dental care.