Dentistry is an invasive process. It takes a lot of confidence and courage to allow a dentist, dental assistant or hygienist to get close enough to do a thorough job.
For that we give thanks.
In our office, one of our daily goals is to make every patient as comfortable as possible for every procedure. To accomplish this, there are different levels of sedation and anesthesia that we can use to do our job. Modern science has given us a lot of tools to make patients comfortable. Hereʼs how they are used.
Local anesthetic is the most commonly used procedure to keep patients comfortable while getting their teeth worked on. This would include gels or rinses that numb the soft tissue (gums) of the mouth, as wells as injections that numb individual teeth or whole areas of the mouth. There are very few side effects except for leaving an appointment and still being numb for an hour or so. Fortunately, reversal agents have been developed to shorten the time it takes for things to “wake up.”
Beyond numbing, there are a couple of adjunct procedures that can make a dental visit more pleasant. Nitrous oxide or laughing gas is still commonly used and can really take the “edge” off of a dental appointment. This works especially well on kids. Oral sedatives can also be prescribed to help patients relax in the dental chair. The combination of both can really make nervous patients relax enough to get the dental care they deserve. If you are nervous about a dental procedure, make sure to let your dentist know in advance so that they can prepare and prescribe accordingly.
For lengthy complicated procedures or surgeries, conscious sedation is a good option. This is where an IV is started and stronger medications are used to sedate a patient to a stage between sleep and unconsciousness. The medications have an amnestic effect that causes patients to forget they even had a procedure. This is very common for wisdom tooth extractions, but can also be used for long and involved general dental appointments.
Finally, general anesthesia can be used in dentistry. This is where patients are totally “under” during their care. Since this often involves an admit to a hospital, general anesthesia is reserved for severe cases of dental phobia, as well as children too young to be seen in an office setting.
The good news is that whatever your level of comfort, there is a way to receive the care you deserve.
Until next week, keep smiling.
-Please send comments to Drs. Parrish at www.ParrishDental.com.