Conscious Sedation Dentistry - A Solution for the Fearful Dental Patient
Imagine being so frightened of visiting the dentist that you endure a toothache. For some people this is a reality. Others may quell their fear enough to get themselves to the dentists’ office, but the visit is an emotionally excruciating ordeal. For people like these, Conscious Sedation Dentistry (CSD) is a blessing.
What is Conscious Sedation Dentistry?
Conscious Sedation Dentistry is the use of oral sedation medications that alleviate the anxiety and fear of the dental visit. You are sedated with oral medication, enough so that you are extremely at ease. You do not actually sleep during the treatment; you are awake and able to respond to commands (such as “open wider”) and can even get up out of the dental chair to use the bathroom. You won’t feel anxious and, most of the time, will not even remember the dental visit.
With conscious sedation dentistry, time seems to pass very quickly, so hours feel like minutes. It’s a great option if you want to do all or most of your treatment in one long visit.
Of major importance is the fact that Oral Conscious Sedation (OCS) is extremely safe. The OCS drugs mainly used are benzodiazepines. The dosage used for dental work is far below the level approaching a toxic dose. The oral sedation medications and the doses that are most appropriate are selected based on your health history. Software analysis is done to search for any possible interactions between any medications that you may be taking and the conscious sedation drugs being considered. If analysis reveals a possible interaction, another sedative medication will be used.
In some instances, patients may be given Valium to take the night before their dental treatment visit. No food is permitted for about eight hours prior to this dental appointment. Also, someone must drive you to and from the dental office and stay with you for the rest of the day.
Upon arrival at the office, you will be made comfortable in the dental chair and given a predetermined dose (based on your age, weight, and etc.) of the appropriate OCS drug. Throughout the dental procedure, your blood pressure, heart rate and tissue oxygen saturation will be monitored.
Given that it takes about an hour to reach a point of relaxation, no procedures are begun until you are completely comfortable.
Who Can Benefit From Oral Sedation Dentistry?
- Suffer from dental phobia or anxiety
- Experienced traumatic past dental treatments
- Are afraid of injections
- Do not get numb easily (with the use of CSD, teeth do get numb)
- Need a large amount of dental work completed
- Gag easily
- Have extremely sensitive teeth
- Dislike the sounds, sights and smells associated with dental treatment
Frequently Asked Questions About Conscious Sedation Dentistry
Q. Will someone need to accompany me to my appointment?
A. Yes, you will need a companion to drive you to and from your appointment. Your companion should stay with you for the rest of the day.
Q. Will I be unconscious?
A. No. You will be in an extremely relaxed state and will most likely not remember the appointment. However, you will be conscious and responsive the entire time.
Q. Will I be monitored?
A. Yes, at all times. Your vital signs will be taken throughout the sedation appointment. One of our team will always be with you.
Q. Will my teeth be numb?
A. Local anesthetic is routinely used to numb teeth being treated. For those who fear these injections, CSD remedies that problem as well. There are some patients who do not fear dentistry, but, for some reason, their teeth just do not become numb from the injections. No one is sure why this happens, but, with the use of CSD, these patient’s teeth do get numb.
Q. How long will I remain sedated after my appointment?
A. Each person’s recovery time is different based on your body, as well as the medications and dosages used. Plan on relaxing at home for the remainder of the day after your appointment.
Q. How does the use of CSD drugs fit in with a holistic dental practice?
A. If someone is so fearful of having dentistry done that they postpone treatment until they end up needing a root canal or an extraction, that outcome is far worse than the short-term use of a drug. The conscious sedation drug will be out of the system within a day, while the negative impact of having a root canal or an extraction is long lasting.
Q. For which dental procedures should I consider using CSD?
A. Really any type of dental procedure (filling cavities, extractions, crowns, gum work). Check with our office for guidance.
Patients really appreciate CSD!
Anxious patients really appreciate Conscious Sedation Dentistry. They enjoy feeling comfortable, losing a sense of how long they are in the dental chair, and, for the most part, not even recalling the procedure.
They especially appreciate having a healthy mouth!
Some of the frequently heard comments from our CSD patients:
“This is the best thing I have ever done for myself.”
“I can’t believe I was in the chair for 4 hours, it seemed like a few minutes.”
“I finally had a painless dental appointment.”