For many people in San Diego, CA, a visit to the dentist is preceded by much anxiety; in fact, some would rather endure a toothache that set foot in their dentist’s office; after all, who wants sharp, whirring instruments placed in their mouth? This kind of anxiety is quite common and it is inspired by misconceptions and experiences of the past. If this is the case for you you will be pleased to know that there are now several dentists in San Diego who offer sedation dentistry. This is the kind of dentistry where the patient is first sedated before the dentist can begin the procedure. There are different levels of sedation that are available and the one that your dentist will choose for you will depend first on the procedure that he is performing and then on your level of anxiety. He has a choice between the following 4 levels of sedation:
- He can choose a minimal level of sedation that leaves you awake but also helps you feel relaxed.
- He can choose to sedate you moderately, what is also referred to as conscious sedation where you will be relaxed, a bit slurry and also after the procedure is over, you will not remember anything at all.
- Deep sedation is left for those who have a high level of anxiety or those who will be undergoing moderately painful procedures.
He can choose general anesthesia which is much like what you get in the hospital right before an operation to make you unconscious.
Methods of sedation
There are different ways that your dentist can choose to sedate you. The method he chooses is really up to him. Keep in mind that if he chooses to give you general anesthesia then it is a required to have a qualified and certified anesthesiologist with him in the room at all times. Here are the different methods that dentists use to sedate their patients.
This one is used when the dentist wants the patient to be minimally sedated. In most cases, the patient will inhale laughing gas, also know as nitrous oxide, that is mixed with oxygen. It is inhaled through a mask over your nose. Once you inhale it you will feel relaxed in just a few seconds and the dentist can then start the procedure. Because this gas tends to wear off quickly the dentist may choose to give you additional sedation during the procedure. Since this form of sedation doesn’t linger patients are usually able to drive themselves home afterwards. If, however, you feel a little woozy it is best to relax in the dentist’s office until your mind clears up.
This is the most common method of minimal sedation that is used by dentists in San Diego, CA. It is usually taken in pill form, in most cases about 1 hour before the procedure can begin. Most dentists use a drug called Hacion which belongs in the Valium family. You will feel drowsy, which lowers your anxiety levels. If the doctor wants you to be moderately sedated he will give you 2 pills instead of 1. In many cases, when patients take 2 pills they fall asleep during the procedure but they are able to wake up easily afterwards. It is recommended that you have someone to drive you home or take a cab – you should not be driving whether you have taken 1 pill or 2.
IV moderate sedation
This is simply sedation that is administered through an IV. Dentists use it when they want moderate sedation right away – since it goes right into the circulatory system the patient is sedation in seconds.
General anesthesia is used to patient into deep sleep in order for the dentist to perform the procedure. The patient cannot wake up easily and afterwards, the effect of the anesthesia has to wear off; the dentist can also use medication to make the effects wear off faster.
It is important to note that not all dentists in San Diego, CA can administer sedation. Most can give minimal sedation using nitrous oxide but for a dentist to do moderate or deep sedation they have to be accredited by Commission on Dental Association or CODA. It is your responsibility to do research and find out whether your dentist has this accreditation. Remember, when it comes to sedation things can go very badly very quickly and it may even result in death or loss of brain function. Don’t take chances with dentists who don’t have experience is sedation dentistry.