Many people are terrified about getting an appointment with the dentist. The anxiety generated just by the mere thought of seeing the dentist is unfathomable. One would rather endure the agony of a toothache than go meet the dentist. The level of anxiety varies depending on each person.
The anxious type would normally worry exaggeratedly about the visit, and would try inventing excuses to postpone their appointment. The other type is the phobic or the dental phobic who is petrified at the thought of seeing the dentist. These types are normally the ones with bad cases of dental problems. However, modern medicine has allowed the use of dental sedation to calm the anxious.
Dental sedation is a procedure where dentists use medication to help a patient relax while having their dental procedure. Sedation allows patients to get their dental treatment and care without worry or anxiety. There are four levels of sedation available depending on a person’s anxiety level and physical condition.
The four levels include:
1. Minimal Sedation or “anxiolysis” (anxiety relief).
The patient is awake but in a very relax state. The person normally responds to verbal commands. This is the lightest form of sedation, and is usually administered to people with a low level of anxiety. Generally, dentists can administer minimal sedation without requiring training or a special permit, as long as it is within the prescribed dosage. Minimal sedation is administered either by oral or by use of nitrous oxide (laughing gas).
2. Moderate sedation or conscious sedation.
The person is awake but in a state of haziness. Speech is slurred and the patient is usually unconscious about their surroundings. Moderate sedation is generally administered to people with a high level of anxiety. The dentist should have additional training, and a special license from local dental authorities to administer moderate sedation. Moderate sedation is administered orally, by use of nitrous oxide or by intravenous method.
3. Deep Sedation.
The patient is between wakefulness and an unconscious state. It is usually administered to patients with high level of anxiety bordering on phobia, or patients who need to undergo oral surgery, or some other intense dental procedure. Only an anesthesiologist or a trained oral surgeon may administer deep sedation. The most common method of deep sedation is by inserting a needle to the vein on the hand, often known as the intravenous method (IV method).
4. General Anesthesia.
The deepest level of sedation where patients are unconscious. Patients under general anesthesia do not respond to any kind of stimulation, and require assistance breathing. General anesthesia is administered to patients who are dental phobic, or those who require invasive procedures such as maxillofacial surgery. Only a general anesthesiologist, dental anesthesiologist or oral surgeon may administer general anesthesia. Due to the high level of risk, general anesthesia is usually done in hospitals. There is always a level of risk in taking sedative medication. The most important thing to remember is to ensure your dentist have the training and qualifications to administer the type of sedation you require.