Should I Consider Sedation Dentistry?

Should I Consider Sedation Dentistry?

Sedation dentistry can help you overcome your fear of going to the dentist.

If you are reading this article then it’s probably safe to say that going to the dentist is not your favorite activity. If this is the case, then you may want to consider being put to sleep as an option. Sedation “sleep” dentistry, is a fancy word for using a combination of drugs and gases to achieve different levels of “sleepiness”. The lowest level of sedation is achieved with sedative pills or Nitrous Oxide gas which puts you at ease and takes the edge off. The next level of sedation uses oral conscious sedation or IV sedation and makes you very drowsy, although you still breath on your own at this level of sedation. The highest level of sedation uses general anesthesia which requires an anesthesiologist and completely knocks you out. Before you read the rest of the article, please come up with a number between 1 to 10 describing how scared of the dentist you are, with 1 being not afraid at all and 10 being deadly afraid. Great, now let’s find out if you’re a good candidate for sedation dentistry or not:

Sedation Highly Recommended:

(1) Removing All of Your Impacted Wisdom Teeth

If there was a case where sedation was a must, this is the one. If you have multiple wisdom teeth and a few are trapped under your jawbone, known as impacted wisdom teeth, then removing your wisdom teeth is going to be a major surgery. It is best to go to sleep for this procedure, this way you won’t feel any pain and also won’t get traumatized afterwards. Keep in mind that you will always be encouraged to remove all four of your wisdom teeth at the same time during one visit whenever being put under sedation. This makes sense, after all you don’t want to go through 4 sedation sessions just to remove 4 bad teeth. Note that if your wisdom teeth are fully erupted and not impacted, then sedation is more optional rather than mandatory. Talk to your dentist or oral surgeon to see what their feeling is on sedation for your wisdom teeth before you make your final decision.

(2) Full Mouth Extraction & Dental Implants

I highly recommend that you consider sedation if you need to remove multiple loose, infected and broken teeth. Your dentist or oral surgeon may have to cut bone, place grafts and perform extensive re-contouring within your mouth so going to sleep can be very beneficial. Keep in mind that if you are ONLY receiving dental implants, without tooth extraction, then sedation is not as essential. Placing dental implants is far easier and less painful than pulling teeth, thus most dentists don’t recommend sedation just for placing dental implants. Talk to your dentist to see if it makes sense to go to sleep for your treatment.

(3) Extensive Treatment Required

If you need lots of work because you haven’t been to the dentist in years, such as multiple crowns, root canals, extractions, deep cleaning, etc. then it is wise to consider sedation dentistry. Find yourself a superstar dentist who offers sedation and can also perform the majority of your treatment while you’re sedated. You need to set aside a whole day for this appointment, but in exchange you will be receiving a substantial amount of work in just that one session. In my practice, I sometimes perform a year worth of dental work in just one sedation session. Talk to your doctor to see exactly what he or she is comfortable performing during your sedation session and be sure that you’re getting all your difficult treatment completed while sedated.

(4) Uncooperative Children

You need sedation if your child needs several baby root canal or extractions but he or she is very uncooperative. After all, no dentist can work on a child who is screaming, kicking and punching. Find a pediatric dentists who is licensed to treat children under sedation (which is different than adult sedation license) and your child will be in good hands.

(5) Highly Phobic Patient (10 on a Scale of 1 to 10)

Let’s be honest, if you’re so scared of the dentist that you can’t convince yourself to sit in the dental chair under any circumstance, then you need sedation. While it may not be customary to only perform dental fillings and cleaning under sedation, if sedation is the only way you can get your treatment completed, then you should consider sleep dentistry. Talk to your dentist to see what level of sedation is suitable for your needs based on your anxiety level and amount of dental treatment you require. Many dental offices, including my own practice, offer sedation as a complimentary service for patients who are receiving extensive dental work so take advantage and go to sleep if you really need to!

Sedation is Helpful But Not Mandatory:

(1) Removal of Single Tooth

You shouldn’t have to go to sleep just to remove just one infected tooth or perform a single root canal. Putting you to sleep involves quite a bit of legwork and to spend all that time and money for just one tooth is not worth it. Most skilled dentists and oral surgeons can numb and fix your bad tooth with minimal discomfort. Of course, if you’re really afraid of having your tooth fixed and are willing to go through the headaches of preparing and paying for sedation, then by all means go for it. Just keep in mind that majority of people remove individual broken teeth without sedation and do just fine.

(2) Moderately Phobic Patient (8 or 9 on a Scale of 1 to 10)

Most people are scared of the dentist but manage to receive treatment without sedation. If this applies to you, then try to avoid sedation whenever possible. Reserve sedation for those rare occasions when it is really required, like when you need extensive treatment. Instead, work on overcoming your anxiety so you don’t have to rely on sleep dentistry.

Sedation Not Recommended:

(1) Checkups and cleanings
Everyone needs a dental cleaning every 3, 4, 6 or 12 months, depending on your oral hygiene and periodontal health. If you can’t find a way to show up for your dental cleanings, then you need to find a solution other than sedation dentistry. Consider bringing music, scheduling early morning appointments, talking to your dentist about your treatment, or even switching dentists if it comes down to it. Just don’t expect your dentist to sedate you for every cleaning session, unless of course you can afford to hire your own personal dentist!

(2) Fillings, Crowns and Root Canals

Majority of us have to get a few fillings in our lifetimes. As we age, these fillings will likely break and require crowns, root canals and occasionally a dental implant. Instead of relying on sleep dentistry, try to establish a good relationship with a dentist you like so you don’t have to worry every time you’re due a dental visit.

(3) Mildly Phobic Patients (7 or less on a Scale of 1 to 10)
Try to find ways to overcome your fear of the dentist, other than going to sleep, if you are only mildly scared of the dentist. For some it works best if they educate themselves about their treatment by watching Youtube videos and studying up on their treatment in advance. For others, distraction works best so bring your headphone and listen to music instead of the drill! Find what works for you and gradually work on overcoming your fear over time instead of relying on sleep dentistry.

Sedation dentistry is a great option for those who qualify. Start by finding yourself a dentist who you are comfortable with, and discuss your treatment and sedation options. Be aware that sedation dentistry can get expensive very quickly, since so much work is being done in such a short amount of time. Be prepared to use up all your insurance benefits and apply for financing when undergoing sedation. Just don’t forget that fixing all of your dental problems in a single appointment without feeling any pain or having any bad memories, makes sedation dentistry worth all its costs and headaches! To learn more about sedation dentistry click here or contact me on my website.

Brush 'n Floss Yo Teeth!
Ali John Jazayeri, DDS


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