What is sedation dentistry?
The term “sedation dentistry” is used and misused a lot on websites and in conversations about dentists. It is not the same thing as sleep dentistry (see below), and it is not what happens in a hospital for surgery. It is a way of helping you deal with any anxiety you might feel when you think about visiting a dentist, or when you walk through the dentist’s door.
We call it conscious sedation. Dr. Greenhalgh will give you an oral sedative before he begins any dental work. It relaxes you so that anxiety fades away and you feel calm and unconcerned. Dr. Greenhalgh will then also give you a local anesthetic, but in your state of relaxation you will not feel or be worried about “the needle”.
The gums are first numbed with a swab, and his local anesthetic technique is very gentle and skilled. You will not have the painful and startling experience you may have had with previous dentists.
What is sleep dentistry?
As with the term sedation dentistry, “sleep dentistry” is misused a lot. Sleep dentistry is not the same as sedation dentistry. We call it deep conscious sedation because it uses stronger medication than conscious sedation. The anesthesia is administered using an intravenous (IV) line and it puts you into a deeply sedated state.
But it does not render you entirely unconscious the way general anesthesia does for a hospital surgery. In a hospital surgery, you cannot move or even breathe on your own, and you must be connected to a breathing machine. Deep conscious sedation does not render you so helpless.
We employ a fully-trained anesthesiologist to calculate your sedative dose, administer it, monitor you throughout your dental work, and determine when it is OK for you to go home.
Will I be able to move during deep conscious sedation?
Yes. You will be able to hear Dr. Greenhalgh ask you to turn your head, for example, or to close your mouth, and you will be conscious enough to do those things.
Will I be able to remember the dental visit?
You will probably have no memory of the dental work Dr. Greenhalgh does while you are under deep conscious sedation. If you choose to have just conscious sedation, you may have a vague memory of dental work, but no memory of pain or fear, because you will not have felt those things once we gave you the sedative.
Can I drive myself home afterwards?
No. The effects of both the oral sedative and the IV anesthesia will wear off slowly, so you will need someone to drive you home.
However, some people choose to have nitrous oxide (laughing gas) along with a local anesthetic. This is an alternative to an oral sedative. The effect of nitrous oxide wear off quickly once you remove the mask. That means you can drive yourself home.
Am I a good candidate for sedation dentistry or sleep dentistry?
Yes, if you are willing to let Dr. Greenhalgh give you a sedative either through a pill or through an IV line. These are ways we offer to help you forget your fear of a dentist chair, regardless of why you have that fear. Some reasons why people do have the fear are:
- Unpleasant past experiences in a dental office
- Extra sensitive teeth
- Extra strong gag reflex
- Awareness that they have delayed their necessary dental work to the point where they have toothache, perhaps gum disease, and much needs to be done
- An expectation of being uncomfortable in the dental chair, perhaps because of back pain or neck pain
We are very sympathetic to these realities and will do everything we can to eliminate discomfort, fear, and pain for you. One of our staff members will greet you in a warm and friendly fashion. Dr. Greenhalgh will listen to your concerns and answer your questions clearly. Sometimes it helps just to have a clear idea of the dental work planned, why it is necessary, and how it is done.
To find out if sedation dentistry is right for you, please contact Scott Greenhalgh, DDS, by calling 303-988-9060 today for a consultation. Our friendly staff is proud to serve patients in Lakewood and nearby Denver areas.