Understanding Sedation Dentistry

In an effort to oust the global oral disease epidemic, the dental industry has spent valuable resources working to better understand and overcome the obstacles that keep individuals from achieving good oral health. Access to dental care is a big issue, and groups like the World Health Organization and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have implemented a number of initiatives to help educate the underserved on the importance of preventative dentistry and general oral health literacy. But what about the people who know that maintaining a good oral hygiene routine is important, but can’t overcome their fears and anxiety to do so? Millions of people around the globe suffer from dental phobia, and for them, visiting the dentist once a year, let alone twice, is enough to induce a panic attack. It’s simply easier to avoid it. In order to reach these individuals, the field of sedation dentistry, or the use of pharmacological agents before and during dental procedures, has been developed rather extensively and is continuously being explored.

Recently, dental researchers at Case Western Reserve University, in Cleveland, Ohio, examined the use of moderate sedatives during common dental procedures, like root canals, gum disease treatments, and extractions. Moderate sedatives allow the patient to remain conscious, but suppresses the brain’s response to pain and stress, allowing the patient to communicate with the dentist.  According to an article from Science Daily, the study looked at 84 patients who received care and moderate sedation while undergoing procedures at the University’s dental clinics in endodontics, periodontics, and oral surgery graduate programs between 2010 and 2012. The patients’ age, sex, and existing medical conditions were also evaluated. The ages of subjects ranged from 8 to 88, with an average age of 45, and 63% were female. Researchers determined that moderate sedation was primarily used in over half of the patients (54%) to calm anxiety and cope with a fear of needles (15%). Sedation was also used with patients who experienced local anesthesia failure (15%), had a severe gag reflex and claustrophobia from the rubber dam (both 8%).  Obviously there are many scenarios that call for the use of dental sedation, and thankfully, the practice is becoming more readily available.

While the use of sedation during dental procedures is clearly necessary, the problem that arises most in the field is that not all dentists are qualified to administer it. While the practice is not typically taught in most graduate programs, schools like Case Western Reserve are beginning to introduce training for moderate sedation into its curriculum. Before visiting a dentist with the intention of receiving sedatives, be sure to learn of their educational background and qualifications. At Miami Dental Sedation Spa, our professionals are well trained and highly qualified to meet any and all of your sedation needs. We welcome you to visit our website and explore the many ways in which we can help you overcome your dental phobia and receive the dental care that you deserve.

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