Do you experience high levels of anxiety when visiting the dentist? You may be a candidate for Sedation Dentistry. Dr. Martina and Dr. Muñoz are Board Certified to administer (oral conscious) sedation, commonly referred to as “Sleep Dentistry.”
Advantages to patients include:
- Treatment is completed when you are in a more relaxed mood.
- You will have less difficulty sitting through a lengthy procedure.
- Multiple treatments and full mouth restorations can occur at during the same visit.
- Less discomfort after treatment.
The most commonly prescribed dental related drugs that treat anxiety belong to the “benzodiazepine” family. Drugs such as Valium, Halcion, Xanax, or Ativan. These drugs decrease anxiety by binding and toning down activity within “fear” receptors in the brain.
There are two different types of Benzodiazepines:
- Sedative-Hypnotics: These drugs induce calm, including drowsiness and even sleep. This sleep state is actually a form of hypnosis which is a form of physiological sleep.
- Anti-Anxiety Drugs: These are drugs which relieve anxiety and induce a state of calm and relaxation.
While benzodiazepines act as sedatives AND anti-anxiety drugs, some are highly targeted at areas within the brain which focus on sleep. Others act in a more specific way and target fear centers in the brain. In most cases, higher doses act as sedatives and induce sleep, while in lower doses, they reduce anxiety without sedation.
Benzodiazepines are also Central Nervous System (CNS) depressants (i.e. there can be a decline in blood pressure and breathing). It is important to note that they shouldn’t be mixed with other CNS depressants such as alcohol. Its important that you utilize the dose your dentist or doctor recommends. It is possible to overdose, and overdoses could lower your breathing to dangerously low levels, which could result in coma or death.
Please note that you shouldn’t travel on your own after you’ve taken any of these drugs. Make sure you have an escort, even if you traveled by bus or foot! It’s easy to become disorientated.
When not to take benzodiazepines:
Some of these drugs can affect your liver and heart. It’s important to check with your practitioner and/or pharmacist. You should be sure to inform your doctor or dentist if any of the following apply: known allergy to the drug, narrow-angle glaucoma, pregnancy, severe respiratory disease (COPD), congestive heart failure (CHF), impaired kidney or liver function, depression/bipolar disorder/psychoses, chronic bronchitis and some other conditions. It’s also important to let us know if you are taking other medications. There could be possible drug interactions.
Nitrous oxide is a safe and effective sedative agent that is mixed with oxygen and inhaled through a small mask that fits over your nose to help you relax.
Nitrous oxide, sometimes called “laughing gas,” is one option Dr. Martin or Dr. Muñoz may offer to help make you more comfortable during certain procedures. It is not intended to put you to sleep. You will be able to hear and respond to any requests or directions the dentist may have. Your dentist will ask you to breathe normally through your nose, and within a few short minutes you should start to feel the effects of the nitrous oxide. You may feel light-headed or a tingling in your arms and legs. Some people say their arms and legs feel heavy. Ultimately, you should feel calm and comfortable. The effects of nitrous oxide wear off soon after the mask is removed.
Intravenous Sedation (“Twilight Sedation”)
Our office offers our patients the option of Intravenous Sedation, also referred to as Dental Intravenous Anesthesia, or “Twilight Sedation,” for their dental treatment. This is what sets our office apart from other dental practices; it is our niche, if you will.
Intravenous Sedation or “twilight sleep” helps you to be comfortable and calm when undergoing dental procedures. Your treatment can be completed for you under intravenous sedation, if you so desire. Intravenous sedation or “IV sedation” (twilight sedation) is designed to better enable you undergo your dental procedures while you are very relaxed. It will enable you to tolerate as well as not remember those procedures that may be very uncomfortable for you. IV sedation will essentially help alleviate the anxiety associated with your treatment. You may not always be asleep but you will be comfortable, calm and relaxed, drifting in and out of sleep – a “twilight sleep”.
If you choose the option of intravenous sedation your IV sedation/anesthesia is administered and monitored by Dr. Martin and Dr. Muñoz, therefore eliminating the costly expense of having your treatment carried out in an operating room or same-day surgical facility.
How is the IV Sedation Administered?
A thin needle will be introduced into a vein in your arm or hand. The needle will be attached to an intravenous tube through which medication will be given to help you relax and feel comfortable. At times a patient’s vein may not be able to sustain a needle for the length of the procedure. In this case, the medications will be administered and the needle retrieved. Both scenarios will achieve the same desired level of conscious sedation. Once again some patients may be asleep while others will slip in and out of sleep. Some patients with medical conditions and/or on specific drug regimens may only be lightly sedated and may not sleep at all.
The goal of IV sedation is to use as little medication as possible to get the treatment completed. With IV sedation, a constant “drip” is maintained via the intravenous tube. At any time an antidote can be administered to reverse the effects of the medications if necessary. IV sedation is very safe!
Once again, all modalities are administered and monitored by Dr. Martin and Dr. Muñoz in the safety and comfort of our office environment.
Sedation dentistry is also a great option for the elderly, the disabled, or simply- the fearful!
Sedation Dentistry for the Elderly
As we age, our oral health becomes more important than ever. Periodontal disease can lead to bone and tooth loss, which affects nearly every part of our daily lives. To lead full and active lives, we need our teeth and gums. They allow us enjoy food, support speech and good conversation, and facilitate digestion. Dr. Martin and Dr. Muñoz are dedicated to treating elderly patients with care and commitment to comfort and health.
Elderly patients as a group tend to avoid dental visits for a variety of reasons, including: more pressing medical concerns, anxiety about treatment, the hardship of transportation, or fixed incomes. Once their oral health has reached an unmanageable point, fear and embarrassment further keep these patients away from the dentist.
For elderly patients embarrassed or fearful of their current oral state, sedation dentistry provides the opportunity for Dr. Martin and Dr. Muñoz to treat these conditions while the patient remains relaxed and unaware until “awaking” to an improved oral state!