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Am I a Candidate for Sedation Dentistry?
Sedation dentistry is a form of dentistry where patients are administered drugs, usually of the anti-anxiety variety, that help them relax and remain calm during dental procedures. According to the American Dental Association, 22% of adults report that they avoid visiting the dentist because of fear. If you have been avoiding going to the dentist because of anxiety or panic, you may be a candidate for this treatment.
Characteristics of good candidates for sedation dentistry
Not every patient will have the same reasons for requiring sedation. That said, patients who are good candidates tend to share some common characteristics.
A history of avoidance
A patient who has experienced any of the following may be a good candidate for sedation:
- Extreme fear or anxiety about going to the dentist or having dental procedures performed
- Traumatic dental experiences
- Denial of the existence of a dental problem until the pain becomes unbearable
- Avoidance of dental care for many years
- Frequently scheduled and then canceled appointments
Low pain tolerance or other physical complications
Patients who experience unusual levels of pain during dental procedures or have difficulty becoming numb may be good candidates. Sedation may also be a good option for patients who have very sensitive gag reflexes or physical limitations, such as back, neck or jaw pain, which make it difficult for them to hold their mouths open during dental procedures. Sedation is also sometimes appropriate for patients who have difficulty remaining still for an entire dental procedure.
The need for a long procedure
Patient comfort is often a limiting factor in the amount of dental work that can be done in a single visit. Because sedation helps keep patients calm, relaxed and more able to tolerate longer periods of discomfort, dentists can often complete more work in a single sedation visit than they can in a traditional office visit. Sedation can be particularly beneficial for procedures that are unusually long or painful.
Exceptional scheduling issues
Patients who avoid dental care because they have difficulty fitting appointments for multiple procedures into their schedule can also benefit from sedation services because procedures that would normally require several separate visits can be done in a single sedated visit. Sedation is also sometimes appropriate for certain types of dental surgeries that do not require a general anesthetic but are too lengthy or painful for a traditional visit with just a local anesthetic.
Instances where sedation is not a good option
Patients who are allergic or resistant to the drugs used in sedation dentistry usually will not be able to be sedated. Additionally, sedation is generally not recommended for patients who are pregnant or who have certain medical conditions that may not be compatible.
Patients who have been avoiding the dentist because of fear, pain or lack of time can often benefit from sedation dentistry. If you think you may be a good candidate, discuss your options with your physician and dental professional.
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