According to the media and popular opinion, dentistry is often something to be feared. Dentists are typecast as stern, frowning individuals holding dangerous-looking tools and equipment. As a result, fear of dentistry or dental phobia is by no means uncommon, especially among children.
As a dentist, there’s not much we can do to keep our patients from being nervous in the office, but we do have something that could make the process easier for them — sedation dentistry.
Mint Dental Alaska is one of the few practices in Anchorage that has a qualified dentist who can provide this special treatment. In fact, all our dentists have some level of extra education with IV sedation.
While you might not need to be sedated for procedures as simple as a biannual checkup it can make a procedure like a root canal or wisdom tooth removal much more bearable. When deciding what procedure and treatment is needed in your situation, we will give you the choosing sedation dentistry.
What is sedation dentistry?
Sedation dentistry sounds like a simple-enough idea — sedating a patient to help relieve him or her of any anxiety caused by the visit. This field can be very complex and have several different options for patients to choose from.
There are many levels of sedation and types of anesthesia, and picking the best option, as well as figuring out a safe dosage, is a job that requires the skills of a certified professional.
One thing many people don’t understand is that sedation dentistry isn’t the same as your dentist applying a local anesthesia during a procedure. Sedation dentistry refers to medication that is designed to help patients susceptible to dental anxiety and the latter is a way to prevent patients from feeling pain during dental procedures.
Any dentist is qualified to apply local anesthesia during a procedure, but only specially certified professionals can administer sedation dentistry to a patient.
How Sedation Dentistry Works
While the method of delivery is often different, the basics of how sedation dentistry works is similar regardless of method. Somewhere between 15 minutes and an hour before your procedure you will be given the sedative that you and the dentist have chosen.
The sedative is designed to numb the area of the procedure and send the patient into a relaxed, comfortable state. In many cases, the patient will remember little to none of the dental procedure. While you will be conscious and even responsive the entire time, the state of relaxation often makes it impossible to focus or recall details later.
The sedation will not wear off immediately after the procedure, so you should have a friend or family member there to drive you home. The time that it takes for the sedative to wear off varies greatly, and is dependent on how much you were given, they type of procedure, and your body’s natural recover mechanisms.
What types of sedation dentistry are there?
There are several types of sedation dentistry that we specialize in. Each one has its strengths, and certain situations and procedures where it tends to be recommended before others.
To give you an idea of your options we’ll discuss them below, but your dentist can go into greater detail during your appointment.
The inhalation of some gases like nitrous oxide, otherwise known as laughing gas, have long been used to numb a patient before and during procedures.
One of the benefits of nitrous oxide is that it dissipates quickly and oftentimes patients can drive themselves home shortly after the procedure.On the flip side, we don’t always recommend gas for a longer procedure due to the need to re-administer it periodically.
Oral sedation involves taking pills that can be taken before the procedure.
Getting the dosage right is very important using this method as it will differ from person to person, and it takes much more calculation to figure out the right dosage.
This is especially important so that the effects don’t wear off before the end of the procedure, because taking a second dose at that point is not an option.
For many this is the most agreeable option, though. Not everyone is excited by the option of nitrous oxide and some are more scared of IV sedation (our next option) than they are by the dentist in the first place!
Intravenous (IV Sedation):
As we said earlier, at Mint Dental we have several doctors who have undergone specialized training to administer IV Sedation.
If you opt for this option, you’ll be administered an injection that will let you feel the calming effects almost immediately. Another benefit of this method is many patients report that the procedure seemed to only last a few minutes and recall very little of it after the fact.
Still the most common form of numbing agent used at the dental office, this is the first option for any procedure.
If you are only undergoing a minor procedure, we will normally try to get through it with only a local anesthesia rather than one of the other options discussed.
Why might I want or need sedation dentistry?
Typically, sedation dentistry isn’t a crucial part of any dental procedure. While most sophisticated procedures will require local anesthesia, dentists typically only recommend sedation for the most complex and time-consuming treatments.
However, that doesn’t mean that those treatments are the only time you could get sedation dentistry. If you have experienced anxiety during dental procedures in the past, next time, request sedation to make the process easier. We are willing to explore all options to make your experience as comfortable as possible.
How Much Does Sedation Dentistry Cost?
The cost of sedation dentistry varies greatly depending on which option you choose. Local anesthesia is included in many procedures and no extra cost, while Nitrous Oxide is often around $50 for a normal appointment.
Oral and IV sedation can both be more expensive options, ranging between $250 and $550 dollars each.
Often insurance will cover these costs because without sedation some patients cannot stay calm enough for the dentist to do his work. You’ll want to double check this with your plan provider after deciding the best option for sedation with your dentist.
Other Questions on Dental Sedation?
If you have been delaying a dental procedure due to fear of pain, discomfort or the stress associated with it sedation dentistry could be a great fit for you.
To find out more about how you could benefit from the sedation dentistry at Mint Dental Alaska, you can make an appointment to talk directly to one of our dentists! Just call our office at (907) 646-8672 today to set a date today!