What makes you anxious?
For a large swath of the population, the answer is: the dentist.
Which can make an already-intricate profession even more so. Navigating a patient’s sensitivities and nerves is a challenge that many medical professionals aren’t really equipped for. That’s why sleep dentistry or, more accurately, sedation dentistry, has become quite popular over the last few years.
What is sedation dentistry?
Sleep or sedation dentistry is the act of relaxing a patient for procedures ranging from teeth cleaning to full extraction. There are quite a few techniques to choose from which will rely heavily on the procedure itself and the patient’s true level of dental anxiety.
Sedation can be:
- Minimal: The patient is awake but relaxed. Can be administered with nitrous oxide inhalation or low doses of pills like Halcion, taken orally one hour before the procedure.
- Moderate: The patient is conscious but likely will not remember most of the procedure. Higher doses of Halcion or diazepam are taken one hour before the procedure. The drug can also be given through IV which allows for continual adjustments.
- Deep: The patient is borderline unconscious but easily awakened. Intravenous sedation is most commonly used in this case.
And then there is general anesthesia in which the patient is totally unconscious.
Who benefits from dental sedation?
Patients who have a very low tolerance for pain, incredibly sensitive teeth, an inability to sit still, or are scheduled for a significant amount of work are candidates for dental sedation.
When deciding whether or not to incorporate sedation dentistry into your practice, it’s important to be prepared with the following information:
- An individual’s full medical history
- Appropriate dose for age and health status (including weight and sleep disorders)
- The training and/or certifications necessary to administer sedatives
- The pros and cons of hiring a dental anesthesiologist to outsource the administration
- The possible side effects of each method
Should I offer sleep dentistry?
With more patients requesting sedation services, it’s a good idea to investigate your options. If you’re comfortable (and licensed, if necessary) to administer sedatives, consider adding it to your offerings. If not, look into the benefits of hiring or contracting an experienced dental anesthesiologist.
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