Dental anxiety is very common and here at Devonshire Dental Care we recognise that going to the dentist may make some people feel anxious and nervous. To combat nerves and make patients feel as relaxed and calm as possible we offer sedation, which helps you to feel completely at ease, prevents you from experiencing pain and allows your visit to be as enjoyable as possible.
This page will explain what happens during the sedation procedure and will try to answer some frequently asked questions.
What does sedation feel like?
Many people describe being sedated as feeling like they are asleep, even though they are actually awake. Sedation induces a state of deep relaxation and will help nervous patients to remove themselves from the situation, relax and stay calm. Most people experience a degree of memory loss and some people may have absolutely no recognition of the time they spent in the dentist’s chair.
Will I still need to have local anaesthetic?
In the vast majority of cases, patients require local anaesthetic. This is because the drugs used to sedate patients are anti-anxiety drugs, rather than pain relief drugs. The drugs will help to relax you but they will not prevent you from feeling pain, so you will still need to be numbed before you have treatment. For patients who have a fear of needles, the anaesthetic injection will be given after the IV sedation has taken full effect to prevent anxiety and nervousness. The dentist will then begin treatment once the local anaesthetic has kicked in. Your dentist will ask you about the anaesthetic and talk to you about what you can feel to ensure the anaesthetic has taken effect before they start the procedure.
How is the drug given?
The drug is administered by means of a narrow plastic tube, which is placed inside a vein below the surface of the skin. A very fine needle is first inserted into a vein (this is usually on the back of the hand but it may also be in the arm); the needle is surrounded by the plastic tube. Once inside the vein, the needle is taken out, leaving the tube inside the vein. The sedative drug is then passed through the tube, and the tube will remain in the vein for the duration of the procedure.
Is IV sedation safe?
IV sedation in Scotland is very safe providing it is carried out by a trained professional. We are delighted to be able to offer our clients this service and many of our patients have benefitted from IV sedation in the past. IV sedation may not be suitable for some patients, for example those with underlying health issues, patients who drink heavily, pregnant women and patients with allergies to benzodiazepines (commonly known as benzos). We will ascertain whether you are a suitable candidate for sedation during the consultation and if you are not we will be happy to discuss other options with you.
Which drugs are used for IV sedation?
Midazolam and Diazepam are used for IV sedation. These drugs are known as short acting benzodiazepines and have three main effects on the body: benzos reduce anxiety, induce tiredness and contribute to partial or total amnesia. Total amnesia is more common if midazolam is used.
What are the benefits of sedation?
The main benefit of IV sedation is that it prevents patients from feeling anxious and nervous both before and during the procedure. It is particularly beneficial for patients that suffer from dental anxiety or dental phobia. IV sedation can also help to suppress the gag reflex, which is beneficial for both the patient and the dentist as gagging is unpleasant for the patient and can make it more difficult for the dentist to work (if the patient is not anxious and sedation is being used purely to suppress the gag reflex, the sedative will usually be inhaled rather than being administered intravenously).
Throughout the procedure the patient will be conscious, which means they can communicate with the dentist if necessary. There is also no need for an airway tube, which makes IV sedation preferential to general anaesthesia and deep sedation in many cases.
Are there any disadvantages?
IV sedation is very safe but as with almost all medical and dental procedures, there is a risk of complications. The most common complication (although there are still very rare) is the development of a haematoma, which is a hard swelling which forms as a result of blood collecting under the skin; this can develop at the site where the needle entered the vein. After IV sedation, the patient must rest and be escorted home by another person. This may disrupt any plans you may have for the rest of the day but you should be accompanied by another person until you are fully alert again.
There are also some people that do not agree with the concept of sedation for anxious patients, because they feel patients will never ‘unlearn’ their fears or phobias if they are sedated during the procedure.
What happens after the procedure?
Although you will probably feel fine after the procedure, it will take a while for you to feel completely normal and alert again so we advise you to have someone take you home and stay with you until you feel totally normal again. You should avoid doing any strenuous activities and you should not drive or operate machinery until the day after the procedure.
Try to avoid eating a large meal immediately after the procedure. If you are hungry stick to something light. If you experience feelings of nausea, try to have a lie down. Your dentist may advise you to take medication for pain relief. Follow their advice and avoid taking other forms of medication without speaking to your dentist first. You should also avoid drinking alcohol after the procedure.
If you feel strange or experience unpleasant side-effects, contact your dentist.
When is sedation available and how much does it cost?
Dental sedation in Glasgow is available for most treatments if the patient feels that is what they want. We will be happy to discuss the option of sedation with you and talk to you about the cost of the procedure. The price of this treatment is £250.00 per session.