Sedation Dentistry, Is It Really Safe?

Were you that kid who had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the dentist’s office? Are you still nervous about seeing your dentist? Are you concerned that your dental health may be affected because you’re not having your teeth checked as regularly as you should?

You may have heard of sedation dentistry. Sedation dentistry is becoming increasingly popular, and many dental practices now offer it for nervous patients.

In this blog, we’ll explain what sedation dentistry is and look at the safety considerations.

What is sedation dentistry?

It has long been standard practice to offer certain types of sedation for a range of dental procedures.

Most significant dental surgeries are performed under sedation, but the procedure is now becoming more common for routine treatment, and even just for an examination.

Sedation can be administered in a variety of ways. This can be oral (by taking a pill), by inhaling nitrous oxide, or intravenous (a needle directly into your bloodstream).

As well as a range of delivery options, sedation can come in multiple levels. It may be that you receive some local numbing, or you may be given medication to calm you while allowing you to remain conscious. In some cases, you can be given a general anesthetic so that you are unconscious for the entire procedure and won’t remember anything.

So, is sedation dentistry safe?

The American Dental Association publishes guidelines for dentists who wish to undertake all levels of sedation, to ensure that it is practiced safely.

These guidelines apply to the level of sedation, as well as the method of sedation. However, the main takeaway from the guidelines is that sedation dentistry is safe as long as it is performed by a properly trained professional, so you should take care to ensure that you trust your dentist, or any other providers they work with.

In 2015 the Journal of the American Dental Association published a paper entitled How safe is deep sedation or general anesthesia while providing dental care? The authors found that general anesthetic and deep sedation are safe for dental procedures. Again they emphasized that proper training is paramount for anyone administering anesthetic.

Where can I find a sedation dentistry provider?

As we mentioned before, sedation dentistry is becoming increasingly popular, but it is important to make sure you find a provider who is properly trained and safe.

Dr. Mandanas has teamed up with Sheila Jensen, a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA), to help us with patients that require something more than local anesthetics. Sheila has practiced anesthesia for almost twenty years in hospital and surgery centers, providing all types of anesthesia for all types of surgery.

Monitored anesthesia care administered by a separate provider allows Dr. Mandanas to give her full attention to the procedure while Sheila ensures that you are safe and comfortable!

Your sedation will begin once a small IV has been painlessly inserted. Medication to help you relax and to relieve pain will be administered by a pump that will measure exactly the amount of medication you require. Sheila will monitor your blood pressure, heart rate and rhythm, and oxygen saturation continuously throughout your procedure and for a short time after Dr. Mandanas is finished, to be sure it is safe for you to leave our care.

If you’re interested in visiting a dentist who understands your nerves and will do everything she can to ensure a comfortable visit, contact Dr. Mandanas today!

7 Ways to Calm Your Child's Dental Anxiety

7 Ways to Calm Your Child’s Dental Anxiety

Many children do not like going to the dentist, but 20% are actually afraid of dental visits, something called dental anxiety or dental phobia.

For these children, an upcoming visit to the dentist is more than just an appointment, it is can be something to fear or even dread.

If you have a child in this state of mind, you are probably wondering what you can do to help them calm down and relax, especially if their fear is keeping them from receiving the dental care they need!

We hope these 7 ways to calm your child’s dental anxiety help!

1. Start Early and Be Consistent

We recommend that you take your child to the dentist as early as 6 months old or before their first birthday. This early exposure will make inroads into calming their dental anxiety from a young age, making dental visits easier as they get older and are more comfortable with the dentist.

It is also a good idea to visit the dentist on a regular basis so that your child becomes used to dental visits. Pick a dentist and stick with them so that your child can build a comfortable relationship with them.

2. Choose the Right Dentist

Find a dentist who has experience with young children and helping them calm their dental anxiety. The dentist should know how to gently explain dental procedures to children, and they should have a few tips and tricks up their sleeve for managing the dental visit.

3. Talk to Your Child About Their Visit

Prepare your child for their dental visit by telling them about it in advance and allowing them adequate time to mentally process. Speak calmly and gently explain what is going to happen. Do not tell them bad stories about your own visits to the dentist and avoid using words like “hurt,” “shots,” or “painful.” Describe the dentist as someone who helps them stay healthy. Answer any questions they may have and tell them that they can ask the dentist questions at their appointment too!

Dolls, stuffed animals, and children’s books about dental visits can be helpful tools for explaining the dentist to your child.

4. Model Good Behavior

Your child is constantly looking to you for what they should think about the world around them how they should respond emotionally. Remain calm and collected when you talk about the dentist and avoid taking your child with you on your own visit. Even if you think you are relaxed, children can pick up on subtle emotional clues that could worsen their anxiety.

5. Practice Relaxation

Before and during your child’s visit to the dentist, practice regulated, deep breathing with them. Show them how this technique can be used to calm them down whenever they feel afraid. You may also practice progressive relaxation, where your child closes their eyes and slowly tenses and relaxes their muscle groups one-by-one from head to toe.

6. Use Distraction

There are several ways you can distract your child from their dental anxiety during a dental visit:

  • Engage them in conversation
  • Discuss a recent, fun event or experience
  • Tell a story
  • Ask them to count something in the room
  • Allow them to play with a favorite toy
  • Play music

7. Exercise Positive Reinforcement

When your child displays good behavior at the dentist or is particularly brave about some part of the procedure, praise them! This will encourage them to use that behavior again in the future.

Alternatives for Children with Dental Anxiety

If none of these methods work, you may want to consider sedation dentistry for your child, or cognitive therapy.

Dr. Owen Mandanas has almost 20 years of experience working with young children at Mandanas Dental. If you would like to learn more about how she has learned to manage childhood dental anxiety, give us a call! We would love to help you make your child’s visits to the dentist as painless as possible.