Sedation dentistry is sometimes referred to as ‘relaxation’, ‘sleep’, or ‘anxiety free’ dentistry and allows appropriately trained dentist to create a safe and comfortable dental experience for patients who avoid the dentist out of fear. We are excited to say this comfortable care is now offered in our office.
As you can imagine, the number of patients who are afraid of the dentist is very high. For these individuals, sedative medication can make oral care easier to tolerate. When patients are comfortable — but still awake – Dr. Williams and his dental team are able to proceed more efficiently. We often can perform a number of procedures in a single appointment, without sacrificing either patient safety or clinical quality. Many people with hectic schedules find it very beneficial to receive necessary treatments in as little as one dental visit instead of multiple trips to the dentist.
What is a sedative?
A sedative medication helps relax patients by slowing the action of the central nervous system. People remain aware of their surroundings, but are less responsive to external stimuli like the sound of the dentistry taking place. This also reduces a patient’s sense of discomfort.
What will I experience after taking oral sedatives?
Most people feel calmer and more relaxed after taking sedative medication. But it’s important to understand that these drugs are used to produce sedation along a continuum, ranging from mild to moderate at one end and unconscious at the other. In our office setting we provide mild to moderate sedation, with patients remaining alert and responsive, and able to answer questions. General anesthesia — where patients are actually asleep — is a different form of sedation that our office does not offer.
What kind of medication will I receive?
The type of sedative Dr. Williams will prescribe depends on the procedure being performed, the patient’s medical condition and any other drugs they take. In many cases, sedation dentistry uses a class of sedative medication called benzodiazepines, such as diazepam, lorazepam and triazolam. In general these drugs are extremely safe and pose little risk of adverse reaction with other medications.
Are there side effects to sedative medication?
No prescription medication — for that matter no over-the-counter medication — is completely without risk. However, the medication used in sedation dentistry are not addictive and do not carry many side effects.
In the case of any medication, however, caution is always advised. Patients may react differently. For this reason Dr. Williams will ask a series of questions about overall health and other prescriptions in order to minimize the likelihood of any harm. It’s important to answer questions as accurately as possible to ensure a safe outcome.
Besides a careful history and possible consultation with the medical doctor, the dentist and clinical staff will monitor the patient throughout the procedure and ensure that they leave the office with a companion or escort.
In addition to creating a feeling of deep relaxation, sedative medication may produces other effects. Patients may feel the hours passed very quickly or otherwise retain little memory of their time in the dental office. Analgesic properties decrease any sensation of discomfort. In very rare instances sedative medication reacts adversely with another drug the patient takes.
What special training do we have?
West Virginia is among one of the few states that require both the dentist and dental team to possess training in sedation care. There are very good reasons for this. Sedation teams are responsible for monitoring patient’s vital signs using equipment like a pulse oximeter with a blood pressure monitor. They can also recognize and respond to potential emergencies. Dr. Williams has taken several continuing education courses pertaining to oral sedation and has successfully satisfied all the requirements necessary to provide minimal oral sedation by the West Virginia Dental Board.
What do I do first?
Simply call or email us. Our dental team will answer any questions you have and ask you some simple questions to help ensure you get the care you want and deserve.
When you’re ready, you can schedule an appointment for your consultation visit. This is when our dental team will gather information regarding your health and discuss with you your wants and desires. If you’re comfortable, we’ll take x-rays and look in your mouth.
It is critical that you provide us with an updated health history including any medications you are on, including vitamins and supplements. Factors like smoking and alcohol consumption can alter the effectiveness of sedation medications, so be sure to tell us know about any habits you may have.
Do I need to prepare for the sedation appointment?
You may receive a prescription for a sedative to take the night before to ensure a good night’s sleep and to make sure you wake up relaxed. We will also give you a prescription for you to bring to our office on the day of the sedation appointment.
What happens on the day of treatment?
Your companion will bring you to the office and Dr. Williams will give you medication shortly before your appointment to provide you the ultimate in relaxation. Our experienced sedation team will monitor you throughout your entire visit. The medications are safe and have been used for decades. In fact, you’ve probably seen or heard some of their names before. Several have amnesic properties, meaning that you remember little to nothing of your time in the dental chair.
What will recovery be like?
You will need to choose a companion to drive you to and from your sedation appointment. You should not eat or drink after midnight the night prior to your appointment unless otherwise directed by your dentist. Your health history can affect your before and after care plans, especially for diabetics and smokers, so make sure we are informed about any medical conditions you may have. The remainder of the day should be taken off. Be sure to stay hydrated and drink lots of fluids. You should not drive or operate heavy machinery for 24 hours. Additionally you should not make any major decisions in the following 24 hours period. Most patients feel no discomfort or residual effects from the dental visit and you’ll be thrilled with all the compliments you will get.