At Dream Dental, we perform sedation dentistry routinely. Here are some basic tips that I have learned that patients should know when considering sedation dentistry.
#1 Understand the difference between the types of sedation.
Lots of times I have to correct my treatment coordinator when she describes, twilight or conscious sedation. Typically, she says “You will go to sleep.” Wrong! During conscious or moderate sedation, you will not go to sleep, but feel very sleepy. Unlike deep sedation, achieved through propofol; conscious sedation is light but does the job. Unless you have abused pain killers or other type of drugs, conscious sedation works on 90% of people. Typically, your medical history gives us a clue to what will be working. For instance, patients on “pain management” therapy will require the use of propofol or ketamine. Another point to remember is how sedation is delivered ie., through vein (intravenously) by mouth or breathing laughing gas. Most sedation that we do is through IV or intra-venous route. The main reason that we prefer this route is that its titratable. What does that mean? Basically, we can adjust the level of sedation by small dosages and if your IV starts on your hand, then it takes 22 seconds to feel the effect. Remember, it takes blood 22 seconds to travel to your brain, where all the receptors are.
#2 Finish all the paperwork and money transactions before
Always understand the treatment before going in the procedure. You should sign all consent forms and understand all risks and benefits. Pay for the treatment before so you don’t have to deal with things after the treatment. Trust me, you will not be in the mood or comprehend.
#3 Arrange a driver and safe babysitter
You must have a driver before and after the treatment. Since we start early in the morning (7 or 8 am depending on type of procedure) you want to have planned day when someone can drive you and come get you around 1 pm. Also, you should be watched by someone you trust when you get home. Although the drug wears out in couple of hours, you should get some rest after your appointment.
#4 have a sound sleep the night before treatment
Patients that come in very nervous to the appointment are those that tossed and turned the night before. We typically prescribe Ambien the night before. Some times even for 3 nights in a row! Dental phobia is complicated, and we really cannot go into psycho analysis when treatment has to be rendered quickly. So if you think you won’t sleep, please ask for sleep aid.
#5 listen to all pre and post appointment instructions
Although we don’t encounter too many non-compliant patients, but understanding what NPO means or “nothing by mouth” for 6 hours is very important. Yes, even a sip of water is not allowed. Don’t worry we will hydrate you with the saline drip. You will wake up reinvigorated and hydrated. The only exception is for patients that are diabetic or must take their meds. Then, we will allow you to have light toast and sip little water for meds.
Overall, conscious sedation is very safe when you understand these tips. If you are postponing your dental treatment due to phobia from childhood, don’t sweat it. Consider sedation dentistry with a qualified dentist.
Dr. Ilya Benjamin