Frequently Asked Questions

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Frequently Asked Questions

You have questions.  Please don't hesitate to ask.  If you cannot find answers on this site, any of our Sedation Dentist offices are happy to help!

When it comes right down to it, we dentists are all in the profession of smiles: Big, toothy, sparkling, healthy smiles. And what a wonderful profession it is.

Stanley Gordon West, the late Minnesota author of "Growing an Inch", coined the expression, “Smile and the world smiles with you.” That’s never been more true, or more necessary than it is today. A smile has no political affiliation. It is not the exclusive province of any class, race, nationality, age or gender.

Obstetricians tell us babies display so-called “reflex” smiles in utero. By the time newborns are between six weeks and 12 weeks old – many months before they utter “mama” or “dada” –  their first real smiles emerge. It’s nature’s way of helping infants immediately connect to those in the world around them.

How very smart nature is – many studies have demonstrated that smiling makes us feel good and actually live longer. Smiling helps lower blood pressure, fight stress, and increase mental clarity.

Conversely, the tens of millions of Americans who are hesitant to smile, or never do, because of oral pain or because they are ashamed of their broken, missing or stained teeth miss out on the myriad of physical and mental health benefits of a healthy smile.

That’s where all of us come in. 

As members of DOCS Education and SedationCare dentists, we are uniquely enabled to turn a closed-lipped, unhealthy mouth into one that radiates warmth, self-confidence, connection and, most importantly, good oral hygiene.

There are so many reasons to smile; isn’t it time you restored yours?

Find a qualified SedationCare dentist near you by entering your zip code at the top of this page. Then simply call or email the office you have chosen.  The Sedation Team will answer any questions you have and help ensure you get the care you want and deserve.

When you're ready, schedule a time that works for you for a welcoming visit.

This is when the Sedation Team will gather information regarding your health and discuss your wants and desires. If you're comfortable, they will take x-rays and look inside your mouth.

You will never be judged or made to feel embarrassed.

Knowledge about sedation dentistry treatment is not only powerful—it is empowering. It is important to talk to your dentist about your fears and concerns during your consultation before any dentistry is performed.  Request information on your dentist’s training, credentials, and the protocols they will use prior to the appointment. It is critical that you provide your dentist with an updated health history including any medications you are on, including vitamins and supplements. Factors like smoking and alcohol consumption can alter the effectiveness of sedation medications, so be sure to tell your doctor about any habits you may have.

Most people feel calmer and more relaxed after taking sedative medication. But it's important to understand that these drugs are used to produce a sedation experience that can range from mild to moderate. In the dental office, you need to be responsive and able to answer questions. General anesthesia -- where patients are actually asleep -- is only provided in the hospital.

Nitrous oxide sedation and some forms of oral sedation fall within the mildest category of sedation. Patients may feel tingling or a sense of well-being. However, they remain alert. Once inhalation is discontinued the effects end also, often within seconds.  With oral sedation, a more profound effect can be achieved but it takes a bit longer to work and to wear off.  You’re still responding but you’re not going to remember it.  Nice.

You may also have a little dry mouth and feel sleepy.  But you are always in control.  Still, you will find this creates the best dental visit you’ve ever known.

About 20% of the population is afraid of the dentist.  If you are among them or if you have other reasons to want this kind of care, sedative medication can make care easier to tolerate. When patients are comfortable -- but still awake -- the dentist and dental team are able to provide more care in less time without sacrificing either patient safety or clinical quality.

Depending on the level you and your dentist choose for your specific needs, sedation can range on a spectrum from minimal to general anesthesia (used in a hospital setting).  During minimal sedation patients can still hear, see and respond to the action taking place around them. Sedated patients are much less likely to experience anxiety.

Today we have options. The type of sedative, or sedatives, the dentist prescribes depends on the procedure being performed, your medical condition and any other drugs you may take. In many cases doctors use a class of sedative medication called benzodiazepines. Examples of benzodiazepines include diazepam, lorazepam and triazolam.

Benzodiazepines were first developed in the 1960s, so scientists have had many decades during which to study and refine them. In general, the drugs are extremely safe and pose little risk of adverse reaction with other medications. Benzodiazepines are the most commonly prescribed sedatives used today.

Just like the insert on every medication, cold syrup, or herbal supplement says, there is always something you should be aware of when taking anything into your body.  Fortunately, with the sedation medications used by our dentists, you won’t find the usual suspects.  No addiction and very few unpleasant side effects.

There are a few.  Some are welcome like amnesia, some not so much.  On rare occasions, people experience nausea with nitrous oxide or hiccups with oral sedation.  Your sedation dentist will discuss these unusual occurrences with you. 

In addition to creating a feeling of deep relaxation, sedative medication may produce other effects. You may feel the hours pass very quickly or otherwise retain little memory of their time in the dental office. You’ll experience a decrease in the sensation of pain or discomfort.

 

For nitrous oxide only, there is little for you to prepare.  However, if you are having oral or IV sedation, you may receive a prescription for a sedative to take the night before your first appointment to guarantee a good night's sleep and a complete list of pre-treatment instructions.

Oral sedation is a popular treatment option for many people because it does not require the use of additional needles. Medications can be swallowed whole and/or crushed and placed under the tongue. Medications given this way are absorbed into the bloodstream quickly, so it is a preferred option by many dentists. 

For IV sedation, a gentle pinprick will allow access for the medications to be delivered even faster.  Before you know it, you’re in the car and on the way home!

You can drive yourself to a visit for nitrous oxide only.

If you are having oral or IV sedation, you’ll need a friend or loved one to bring you to the office.

You’ll be directed not to eat or drink six hours prior to your appointment unless otherwise directed by your dentist. Your health history can affect your before and aftercare plans, especially for diabetics and smokers, so make sure your dentist knows about any medical conditions you may have. Additional medications will be provided to create the ultimate in relaxation. Your experienced SedationCare team will monitor you throughout your entire visit.

Appropriately trained dentists can perform a variety of protocols customized to your particular physiological and pharmacological needs. The medications are safe and have been used for decades. In fact, you’ve probably seen or heard some of their names before. Several have amnesic properties, meaning that you remember little to nothing of your time in the dental chair.

Sedation appointments will require you to take half a day or a full day off of work. Be sure to stay hydrated and drink lots of fluids after your appointment. You should not drive or operate heavy machinery for 24 hours.  The following day you will feel completely rejuvenated without any residual sedative effects.

Most patients feel no discomfort from the dental visit and you'll be thrilled with all the compliments you will get.

Don't just take our word for it--read testimonials from patients just like you.

There is no set amount of recovery time because every patient is different. However, for nitrous oxide only, your recovery is immediate.  For oral and IV sedation, many patients begin to feel more alert immediately after the appointment is over.

You should not drive or operate heavy machinery for at least 24 hours after the end of your appointment. If you experience any nausea after treatment, your dentist can usually provide a prescription to help. You are encouraged to sleep and drink plenty of water and clear fluids for the remainder of the day. In regards to recovery from the actual dental work itself, your dentist will give you individualized instructions for aftercare. Many sedation patients are happy to report little to no pain the day after their treatment.

Most states require training and/or a permit for sedation dentists as well as having the proper monitoring and safety equipment. Your SedationCare dentist is a member of DOCS Education which has helped over 25,000 dental professionals. Patients shouldn't hesitate to ask doctors about their experience, training and the number of sedation cases they have performed.

 

Each dental insurance plan provides different benefits. Contact your SedationCare team to help you understand and maximize these benefits.  

Does your stomach drop when you think of a dental office? The smell, the sound of a drill, lying back powerless in that chair. Well, you’re not alone! Research suggests that nearly half the population experiences some kind of dental fear, and for around a third of those, this fear can be crippling. Dental anxiety keeps many people from getting the care they need, but who would willingly put themselves in that position, knowing their dental needs are significant?

Have you ever assumed that in order to regain your health, you’ll need to face these fears head-on and that it will take many uncomfortable visits to put things right? If so, there’s good news:

You can lose your fear of the dentist without ever actually having to endure anxiety during treatment.

Sounds too good to be true, right? “Even if you don’t remember the appointment, a fearful patient will still be just as fearful,” the logic goes. This is sedation dentistry’s best-kept secret: many patients cease being frightened at all once they have experienced sedation dentistry a few times.

Here’s how it might work: even though you don’t remember it, your brain experienced the sights, sounds, and smells of the dental practice IN THE ABSENCE of fear thanks to the medication, and has begun to re-program itself out of fearing dentistry without you having to do a thing.

For many patients, there is a progression starting with intermediate sedation, then at the follow-up appointment only lighter sedation is required. After a while, they may only require nitrous oxide, and eventually, maybe none at all.

Sedation dentistry makes facing your fear of the dentist easy, and with proper care could eliminate it altogether. Seize today to take your health back and find a sedation dentist in your area!

“But I’m not scared of the dentist, I just don’t have time.” “It’s not anxiety, I just can’t sit still for that long.” Regardless of fear, are concerns about your experience in the dental office holding you back?

Why not enjoy the benefits of modern medicine and exercise control over how you get treatment? Many people who are not afraid of the dentist put off getting needed treatment because it will take a long time and/or be uncomfortable. Although sedation is often promoted as a panacea for the anxious patient, sedation dentistry offers benefits to a wider range of patients than just the dental phobics.

How would you like to get three appointments worth of dentistry done in a single visit? Sedation allows your dentist to perform significantly more treatment in less time, meaning fewer appointments, less discomfort and less irritating rescheduling of your life!

Here’s what your dental experience could look like: take one day off from work instead of leaving early three times. Have a friend or family member drive you to the dental office where you relax in a special, more-comfortable dental chair designed for sedation. You’ll have a warm blanket over you while you wait for the medication to take effect. Then, experience treatment in complete comfort!

Sedation can help you to be more proactive about your health and get your needs taken care of in just a few hassle-free appointments.

“Is sedation safe?” It’s one of the most frequently-asked questions about sedation dentistry.  SedationCare dentists learn state-of-the-art techniques which are regarded as some of the safest in dentistry.

So even if sedation is safe, how can treatment under sedation be safer than under no sedation? Well, according to Dr. Leslie Fang, chair of clinical excellence at Massachusetts General Hospital and a DOCS faculty member, the stress of dental fear can cause adverse cardiac events and exacerbate a wide range of existing diseases.

Patients may react differently. To make this experience as safe and effective as possible, the dentist will ask a series of questions about overall health and other prescriptions. It's important to answer questions as accurately as possible to ensure a safe outcome.

Besides a careful history and possible consultation with the medical doctor, the dentist and clinical staff will monitor the patient throughout the procedure and ensure that you leave the office with a companion or escort.

Many people are afraid to go to the dentist.  Estimates range between 30% to 50% of the population avoids dental visits because of associated anxiety and fear.  Sedation is becoming more common in Dentistry and is drastically reducing dental fear.

Sedation Explained

Sedation is the process of using Sedative drugs to create a relaxed and calm state.  Sedative drugs include nitrous oxide (laughing gas), anti-anxiety medications, and anesthesia.  Sedative medication can be administered as a pill, through a breathing mask, or by IV.  The medication is advancing all the time to create a better patient experience.

How Sedation Reduces Fear for Patients

Sedation reduces fear for patients by eliminating the worry about many of the common experiences in the dental office.  The medications reduce cognitive functioning (awareness), induce calm and some block memory.

Common dental fears that sedation greatly help with are:

  • Fear of pain
  • Fear of the drill
  • Fear of gagging
  • Fear of loss of personal space
  • Fear of helplessness

Sedation can completely eliminate all of those fears for most patients.  Instead of feeling trapped in a fearful situation many patients report that the procedure seemed like it only lasted minutes when it could have been hours long.  A good experience with sedation will make patients more likely come back when they need further work performed.  This also helps to create a positive association with going to the dentist instead of a fear-based association.

Patients That Can Benefit Most from Sedation

  • Patients with high dental fear or anxiety
  • Patients who have put off seeking treatment previously because of fear
  • Patients with physical limitations
  • Patients with jaw trouble that have trouble keeping their mouth open for long periods of time
  • Patients with a low pain threshold
  • Patients with a severe gag reflex
  • Patients who can't sit still
  • Patients who need a lot of dental work completed
  • Patients with sensitive teeth
  • Children

Sedation Helps Your Dentist Do A Better Job

When a patient is anxious they can be very difficult to treat.  Their anxiety might cause movements and reactions that can cause them harm and make performing procedures difficult.  These issues can make the patient become even more anxious , what should be a simple procedure, becomes more much complicated.

A sedated patient is much easier to work on since they are relaxed and more cooperative.  The dentist can then work faster, more efficiently, and provide a higher quality of work.  The result is a more positive experience for both the patient and the dentist.

Sedation Dentistry Is Changing Lives

Sedation Dentistry is revolutionizing the way people feel about going to the dentist.  Many of the people who would put off seeking help for dental issues because of fear, sometimes for decades, are now able to receive the treatment they need without feeling afraid.  This allows patients to receive treatment before the issue becomes worse and potentially become a life-threatening issue.

Dental phobia, called Odontophobia, is a serious, often paralyzing fear of seeking dental care. It has been reliably reported that 50% of the population does not seek regular dental care1. An estimated 9-15% of all Americans avoid much needed care due to anxiety and fear surrounding the dental experience1. This translates to some 30 - 40 million people so afraid of dental treatment that they avoid it altogether.1

Unfortunately, because of Dental phobia, many people avoid seeing the dentist when they could have prevented serious or life-threatening situations. 

The Typical Causes of Dental Fear:

  • Fear of Pain - Pain is often associated with a dental visit.  This can be due to a bad past experience, or from stories shared by someone else.

  • Cost - The cost of going to the dentist is a major reason people don't want to visit the dentist.  This is especially true if they think serious dental work might be required.  A recent survey found that 44 percent of people were not visiting the dentist because they don’t have dental insurance2.

  • Fear of Additional Dental Work - Patients fear hearing that there is a problem with their teeth and that they'll need additional work.

  • Drilling Sound - The sound of the drill can be unsettling especially if they are worried it might be used in their procedure.

  • Tool Fear - The dentist office is filled with sharp tools that can be intimidating.

  • Medication Effects Such as Big Lip - People fear the effects of the Novocaine and anesthesia.  The thought of having to deal with a fat lip or feeling groggy can be off-putting.

  • Helplessness - Patients can feel trapped and unable to move while the dentist works on their mouth with sharp tools.

  • Shots - Many people fear shots.  Large dental needles going into the mouth can be very anxiety inducing.

  • Fear of Medication Not Working - People can be afraid of the medicine not working well enough and that they will be in significant pain from the procedure.

  • Gagging - Some patients fear they will choke or gag on the tools and water used by the dentist. 

  • Self-Conscious - Patients can feel self-conscious with how close a dentist must get to them and that their personal space is being violated.  They might also fear that they have bad breath or did a bad job of brushing.

Symptoms of Dental Fear:

  • Trouble sleeping the night before
  • Heart racing
  • Dry mouth
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Anxiety
  • Feeling of suffocation
  • Hyperventilation
  • Nausea
  • Urge to urinate
  • Urge to gag / vomit
  • Fainting or feeling faint

If You Have Dental Phobia It Is Critical You Talk to Your Dentist

Many reasons to fear the dentist are no longer an issue because of advances in technology and science.  For example, Sedation Dentistry is much more commonly practiced and eliminates almost the entire list of fears by itself.  Advancements in tools such as using lasers creates a much less intimidating dental experience.

If you experience symptoms of dental fear the best solution is to communicate with your Dentist.  Be open and honest about your fears and let the Dentist address them.  A good dentist is one that can make you feel comfortable.  If your dentist doesn't adequately address your fears it is important you try others until you find one that meets your needs and eases your fears.

References:

1 - Odontophobia And The Cycle Of Avoidance: A Review -

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Rahul_Srivastava10/publication/283348734_Odontophobia_And_The_Cycle_Of_Avoidance_A_Review/links/5635f06b08ae88cf81bcc9ad/Odontophobia-And-The-Cycle-Of-Avoidance-A-Review.pdf

2 - The Top 7 Reasons We Avoid the Dentist - https://www.everydayhealth.com/dental-health/the-top-reasons-we-avoid-the-dentist.aspx

People are often afraid to visit the dentist.  This can lead to many long-term problems when issues go unaddressed.  To reduce dental fear the use of sedation has become more common for dental procedures.

According to the SedationCare.com article, Sedation For Adults1 nearly half of North Americans put off routine work for years because of fear.  This is especially true for more extensive treatment.  However, once they are made aware of the option of sedation, they are much more willing to come in for treatment.

What is Sedation Dentistry?

Sedation Dentistry is the use of sedation during a dental procedure.  This helps the patient relax and it is easier for the dentist to perform the work.  Several types of medications can be used to create different levels of sedation.

What are the levels of Sedation?

Minimal - A minimally reduced level of cognitive functioning.  The patient is able to breathe on their own and respond normally to tactile stimulation and verbal command.

Moderate - A drug-induced reduction of consciousness during which patients can respond to verbal commands and tactile stimulation. 

Deep Sedation - A drug included reduction of consciousness during which patients cannot easily be aroused but can be by pain or repeated stimulation.

General Anesthesia - The patient is put to sleep and cannot easily be aroused even by pain.

What types of sedation are used with Sedation Dentistry?

  • Inhaled Sedation - Nitrous oxide or "laughing gas" is inhaled through a mask device. 
  • Oral Sedation - A pill is administered to the patient that will make the patient feel drowsy. 
  • IV Sedation – access is established to a vein and a sedative drug administered through the IV.
  • General Anesthesia - Anesthesia medication is administered that puts the patient mostly or completely to sleep. 

How safe is Sedation Dentistry?

As with any medical procedure, there is always a risk.  Generally, sedation is handled well and side effects are rare.  Common side effects can be little to no recollection of the procedure, dry mouth, and hiccups.

To lower risks follow these best practices:

  • Let your dentist know your medical history and any medications you are currently taking.
  • Make sure your dentist is aware of the American Dental Association Guidelines2 and that they are following them.

To avoid potential emergency situations your Dentist will be monitoring your vital signs to make sure you are responding well to the sedation.

Monitoring should include:

  • Oxygenation - Oxygenation saturation.
  • Ventilation - CO2 and respiration rate.
  • Circulation - Heart rate, rhythm, and blood pressure.
  • Temperature - Body temperature.
  • Documentation - Documentation should be kept for all drugs, dosages, and administration times.  Data from the monitoring devices should be recorded continually.

For more detailed information see the American Dental Association Guidelines for Use of Sedation and Anesthesia by Dentists.

Don't be afraid to check with your dentist to make sure these monitoring measures are in place and that they are following proper guidelines. 

References:

1 - SedationCare.com Sedation for Adults -  https://www.sedationcare.com/sedation-adults

2 - American Dental Association Anesthesia and Sedation - https://www.ada.org/en/member-center/oral-health-topics/anesthesia-and-sedation

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The thought of going to the dentist is terrifying for many people.  Estimates range from 30% to 50% of the population avoids going to the dentist, even when it has become a serious medical situation.

The evolution of Sedation Dentistry is changing minds and many people that once feared going to the dentist are no longer afraid.

Online testimonials for Sedation Dentistry are overwhelmingly positive.  Below are just a few of the glowing testimonials of Sedation Dentistry and how it removed their fear of the dentist.  To read more testimonials use the links in the reference section.

"I'm sorry I can't tell you what the drug was, but when I got two implants in the front of my mouth I was asked to arrive 20 minutes early and was given a little white pill. The pill left me feeling a little drunk and wobbly, but I was alert and aware enough to walk into surgery and lie myself down, then lay there for the next who knows how long feeling relaxed and not particularly bothered about large noisy machinery in my mouth. They covered my eyes loosely with gauze so I couldn't see and stress out. I had to be driven home but was able to get off the surgical table and walk out by myself. I spent the next couple of days marveling at how painless and relaxing the surgery was, thanks to that anonymous white pill."

- posted by tracicle1

"... I had bad childhood experiences, and as a result I have a mistrust of dentists, coupled with a lot of issues around teeth in general. I can't look closely at teeth, or x-rays, or anything. The thought of visiting the dentist fills me with so much anxiety, I can't even sit still. ....

... I went from horrible, crippling anxiety, to none at all. The hardest part was making the appointment, and the first visit where they looked at my teeth. I experienced zero pain during or after. While I did not "lie down and wake up at home," I have only vague memories, like remembering a pleasant dream. I was there for five hours, but it felt like two. ...

... If you are like me, this is your path. Know that there are others like you and worse. Know that your anxiety can dissolve under your tongue, forever. ..."

- excerpts from a very long Reddit post by somnodentata2

"I've had Triazolam, and it's the best stuff on earth (as far as I'm concerned lol). In fact, I've used it for two procedures and a third is scheduled.

... After it was done, I again slept several hours and was a little groggy the rest of that night. But I was fine by the next day. In fact, I was doing so well that two days later we went to a fair. ...

... I hope this helps ease your worry.  Honestly, I think this stuff is a Godsend to those of us with dental phobias."

- excerpt from a very long dentalfearcentral.org post by a "guest"3

These are just a few of the many positive testimonials online.  Sedation Dentistry has been able to remove fear and change lives.

References:

1 - https://ask.metafilter.com/184236/Have-you-had-sedation-dentistry-Can-you-tell-me-about-it

2 -https://www.reddit.com/r/casualiama/comments/10gzr2/i_underwent_sedation_sleep_dentistry_overcoming/

3 - https://www.dentalfearcentral.org/forum/showthread.php?1988-Experiences-with-oral-sedation

Having a full set of teeth has more advantages than you might think.  Many problems develop once you lose even one tooth.  By taking the proper measures to keep your teeth you can avoid issues that can significantly impact your quality of life.

Benefits of Keeping Your Teeth

  • Your teeth support each other.
  • A full toothed smile increases confidence.
  • Chewing is much easier.
  • Reduced risk of infections, gum disease, tooth decay and bone loss.
  • Higher Confidence. 
  • Massive cost savings compared to treatments for issues related to tooth loss.
  • Saves you pain. 

What Happens When You Lose A Tooth

Structural breakdown

Teeth rely on each other for support.  Like books on a shelf, they lean on each other.  Remove one and the books fall.  What happens next is that the teeth that used to fit together with the opposing jaw (top teeth fitting into the lower teeth) for chewing, are getting hit where they shouldn’t be.  The top, biting surface of the tooth is built for force, crushing and tearing.  When the tooth tips, it’s like constantly stepping on the side of your foot instead of the bottom.  Your knees, ankles and hips will all be damaged.

Finally, losing a tooth causes irreversible jawbone damage.  The jaw is also designed to support the tooth.  When a tooth is removed, the jaw is no longer receiving the stimulation it needs and it begins to deteriorate.  This loss of jawbone strength can cause further tooth loss and the difficulty in replacement methods.

You Could Lose Your Smile and Look Older

Not having a tooth will change how the skin drapes over your jawbone and facial muscles.  This will cause facial sagging and create an aged look.  Gaps in teeth can affect your smile and potentially cause you to not want to smile at all.  These changes in your appearance can significantly hurt your self-confidence and interfere with laughing and joyful expression.

Extra Space Invites Bacteria

As discussed earlier, your teeth work together in a delicate balance and support each other.  Losing a tooth throws off the balance.  This can create gaps that food and bacteria can build up in, making it difficult to clean.  This can lead to gum disease and bone loss.

Eating Difficulty and Limited Food Choice

Losing teeth makes eating more difficult.  This may cause you to stop eating foods as they become more difficult to chew foods. This may not only limit your food choice but keep you from obtaining important nutrients in your diet.  Not being able to properly chew your food can also lead to digestive strain.

Speech Change

Tooth loss causes speech to become more difficult.  Speech is a very sophisticated process and any kind of change in your mouth will have an impact.  Sometimes the speech change can be significant which can greatly impact your self-confidence and ability to communicate.

Headaches

We mentioned the collapse of the bite above – when the top teeth don’t fit into the bottom teeth the way they should.  Not only does this cause undue wear, it can create stress on the jaw and facial muscles.  These stresses can cause pain in the jaw and face as well as headaches.

Today’s dentist has many options to repair damaged teeth and replacing missing teeth.  You can have a longer, healthier life while enjoying the foods you love, smiling wide, and laughing out loud.