Sedation Dentistry

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					Sedation Dentistry

Written by Dr. Scott Logan
Wednesday, 22 April 2009 22:03

I’m Scared of the Dentist!

This past weekend I attended the Star of the South Dental Meeting in Houston to update some
continuing education.  One of the classes I attended was a renewal course required when a
dentist elects to offer oral sedation for anxious patients in his/her office.  Dr. John Chandler,
myself and several other dentists from around the state sat in for the latest updates in sedation
dentistry.  I know there are several dentists in town that offer different methods of relaxing the
anxious patient, so I thought I would review some of them for you if you fit into the “scared of the
dentist” category.

I would like to think that going to the dentist is in the “top 10” list of fun things to do, but the truth
of the matter is that studies show 25 million Americans don’t go to the dentist because of fear
and anxiety.  Numerous alternatives are available to make your visit as comfortable as possible.


New amenities in a calming environment

Many dental offices help create a calming environment that reduces anxiety.  In the treatment
rooms several offer televisions, headphones, pillows and blankets, aromatherapy and even
virtual reality glasses that allow patients to watch movies while being treated.  In many
instances, these “distractions” are all that is needed.

Inhalation Sedation

Nitrous oxide, commonly called “laughing gas”, is utilized on patients of all ages.  Few side

Sedation Dentistry

Written by Dr. Scott Logan
Wednesday, 22 April 2009 22:03

effects are associated with its use.  Nitrous oxide is mixed with oxygen and inhaled through a
small mask.  Its effects wear off soon after the nitrous oxide is removed.  It will provide a light
level of sedation that is adequate for many anxious patients.   

Oral Conscious Sedation

The renewal course we attended related to oral conscious sedation.  For those patients who are
very nervous, consideration should be given to oral conscious sedation.  Anti-anxiety agents or
sedatives are utilized to provide a deeper level of sedation.  Oral medications in the form of pills
or liquid are taken by the patient in the dental office approximately an hour before the
appointment.  The medication will make a patient feel drowsy and often will induce sleep.  With
this type of sedation, the patient is still responsive and will breathe on their own.  A variety of
medications are used depending upon the desired effect.  Oral sedation is an excellent
alternative, but levels of sedation can vary from patient to patient and the patient must have
someone drive them to and from the appointment.  New guidelines instituted by the state began
requiring certification and guidelines for patient monitoring for dentists offering enteral (oral)
sedation approximately six years ago. 

Intravenous Sedation

Intravenous sedation involves the introduction of medication into a vein.  A patient will achieve a
relaxed, sedated state very rapidly.  This is still a conscious sedation (not general anesthesia)
as the patient is still breathing and swallowing on their own.  To provide intravenous sedation, a
dentist must acquire additional advanced training and a different special permit is required. 
Typically, oral surgeons, periodontists or general dentists who do a lot of surgery are the
practitioners who seek this level of certification.

Understanding the range of choices that are available to relieve anxiety and discomfort makes a

Sedation Dentistry

Written by Dr. Scott Logan
Wednesday, 22 April 2009 22:03

person a well-informed dental consumer.  Patients can help by discussing their fears and
concerns openly and honestly with their dentist.  If not addressed, dental anxiety can lead to
unnecessary oral health problems which inevitably lead to more advanced and involved
treatment needs.  Who knows, maybe dentistry will make that “top 10” list someday!

Need help with a dental question?  Contact me through our web site at
in the “Contact Us” section if I can assist in any way.


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