“Sedation Dentistry Puts You to Sleep” and Other Myths

Beautiful business woman sleeping

Everywhere you look it seems like more and more dentists offer something called sedation dentistry.

Myth 1: Sedation Dentistry Puts You to Sleep
. You may even have seen billboards or flyers in the mail advertising “dentistry while you sleep” to help patients who are afraid of the dentist. You may even have read or watched news reports questioning the safety of dental sedation. Misinformation abounds when it comes to sedation dentistry, so today we’re busting a few myths and shedding some much-needed light on this helpful, safe technique.

Unlike general anesthesia, which a licensed anesthesiologist must administer in a hospital setting prior to surgery, sedation dentistry does not completely “knock you out” or put you to sleep. Instead, oral sedation and IV sedation place you in a twilight state. From a physiological perspective, you are not truly asleep and you can respond to questions and instructions (such as “How are you feeling?” or “I need you to lean back in the chair”). Much like general anesthesia, dental sedation results in a type of localized amnesia where you cannot recall the details of your dental procedure.

Myth 2: Dental Sedation is Only for Fearful Patients

Although dental specialists like oral surgeons and periodontists have practiced sedation dentistry since the early 20th century, it only became widely offered by general dentists in the U.S. in the last few decades. While the majority of patients who undergo dental sedation do so because they experience overwhelming feelings of nervousness, anxiety, and fear, that’s not the only reason a patient may need to be sedated. Patients with sensitive gag reflexes often opt for sedation, because the constant gagging that occurs as a result of routine dental care is unpleasant (and impedes the dentist’s ability to work efficiently). In addition, patients with physical impairments or neurological disorders who have difficulty cooperating with treatment or who cannot sit still comfortably can benefit from sedation.

Myth 3: Sedation Dentistry is Dangerous

The medications prescribed for dental sedation fall into the category of drugs known as antianxiolytics (literally, anti-anxiety). They are considered very safe for most patients (although people who have recently undergone surgery or who are on certain medications will need to obtain clearance from their medical doctor). Throughout your procedure, your periodontist and his assistant will monitor your vital signs, ensuring that your breathing and blood oxygen remain stable.

About Dr. Marco Cueva

Marco Cueva, DDS, MS is a board-certified periodontist with extensive training and experience providing a full range of advanced dental care services, including sedation dentistry. New patients can schedule an appointment or consultation with Periodontic Excellence at our Allen, TX dental office by calling 972-390-9944.   

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