All You Need to Know About Deep Sedation
Deep sedation allows you to tolerate surgical dental procedures that would otherwise be too painful. It also enables particularly nervous or fearful patients to get the treatment they need. Another benefit of deep sedation is that you may not recall anything about your treatment, and it can also work as an anesthetic to help pain control after your procedure.
Deep sedation is achieved through an intravenous (IV) injection, which allows for precise control of levels of the sedative to ensure the patient remains on the edge of consciousness for as long as necessary, although for them time will appear to have passed quickly. This allows more dental work to be carried out in a single visit.
Deep sedation can only be administered by trained and licensed surgeons, unlike milder forms of sedation dentistry, which can be handled by general dentists.
When properly administered and monitored, deep sedation is both safe and effective. Your heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen levels, and breathing will be monitored throughout the procedure. To help breathing, you may get oxygen through a mask or via tubes in the nostrils.
Sedative medication relaxes you by slowing responses of the central nervous system while reducing the sense of pain. The effects of deep sedation will gradually wear off during the course of the day, and most patients resume normal activities within 24 hours.
Is Deep Sedation Right for Me?
Deep sedation can be the best option in many cases, including dental anxiety or if you suffer from dental phobia.
Dental anxiety is common among patients who feel uncomfortable in the dental office, while dental phobia (odontophobia) is a much more serious condition, involving an abnormal physical and emotional response activated by a dental setting. If just the prospect of walking into a dental practice puts you in a state of panic, you have dental phobia, and your dentist may be able to refer you to a mental health specialist.
You may also benefit from deep sedation if you:
- Need a complex dental procedure.
- Have limited time to complete your treatment.
- Have particularly sensitive teeth or gums.
- Suffered a traumatic dental experience in the past.
- Have back or neck problems that may make dental treatment difficult.
- Have a strong gag reflex.
For most patients, dental anxiety is associated with fear of pain. Deep sedation in conjunction with local anesthetic to numb your mouth will ensure little or no discomfort.
Other benefits of deep sedation include:
- Little or no memory of your treatment from when the sedative takes effect until it wears off.
- Convenience – extensive treatment can be completed in a single visit, which also reduces the cost.
Does Deep Sedation Have Side Effects?
Most patients experience shivering as deep sedation wears off. This is normal – it’s how your body increases blood flow, which will have been reduced during the sedation process.
While some patients report no other side effects, others may experience:
- Dry Mouth. Sedation decreases levels of saliva, which will get back to normal as the sedative wears off.
- Hiccups. A few patients get hiccups after deep sedation, which usually stop after a few minutes.
- Queasiness. Feelings of nausea can be countered by resting and drinking water.
Most if not all side effects after deep sedation will be gone within 24 hours.
Other side effects of deep sedation can be beneficial, such as:
- Little if any recollection of the treatment.
- Less post-operative soreness, resulting in a faster recovery.
What Happens After Deep Sedation?
Most patients have a relaxed experience as deep sedation anesthesia wears off.
However, you won’t be able to:
- Drive yourself home.
- Undertake strenuous activities for the rest of the day.
You will be able to:
- Drink water.
- Eat light meals such as soup or soft toast.
Safeguarding you're oral and general health
Failing to get dental treatment through anxiety not only poses a risk to your oral health but can also impact your general wellbeing. Infections from tooth decay and gum disease can spread to other areas of your body, including vital organs. Avoiding the dentist can also result in emotional problems. Missing teeth, for example, can make you feel embarrassed about your appearance and lower your self-regard.
Nevertheless, studies have shown that:
- 24 million people in the U.S. stay away from dental offices because of extreme anxiety.
- 64 million will only see a dentist when absolutely necessary.
- Three-quarters of the population experience some level of unease about dental visits.
Deep sedation can help you get through procedures such as dental implants, bone grafts, tooth extractions, and root canal work. In rare cases, sedative drugs can react badly with other medications. A dentist experienced in deep sedation will ask about your general health and any prescription drugs you take.
Where Can I Get Deep Sedation Dentistry?
Deep sedation takes you to the verge of consciousness, and, if you have high levels of anxiety about dental visits, this dream-like state can enable you to tolerate treatment crucial for the long-term health of your teeth and gums and your overall wellbeing.
Unlike general anesthesia, deep sedation doesn’t render you totally unconscious all the time, so you can still understand and respond to your dentist. It works fast and the dosage can easily be adjusted.
Not every dental office can offer deep sedation, which is categorized as a Class Four type of sedation, which can only be administered by specially trained, IV certified and licensed dentists.
The American Dental Association (ADA) lays down guidelines on the different types of sedation dentistry and the qualifications required to administer them.
All types of sedation carry risks but a dentist qualified to administer deep sedation will ensure the likelihood of complications is minimal. Ask your dentist about their training in deep sedation.
If you think deep sedation may be beneficial for you, find a dental practice that’s licensed for sedation by the ADA and IV endorsed by the Board of Dental Examiners.