Learning the Levels of Dental Sedation

Anesthesia is commonly used by dentists who are trained in providing discomfort relief for patients undergoing oral operations. The American Dental Association (ADA) has set strict guidelines that we must follow before administering the various types of sedation. Here is a short primer on the types of dental sedation.

If you are a person who feels uncomfortable or anxious when going in for dental treatment, you have the option to be sedated so that you may relax. There is no need to be embarrassed about requesting this. Although there is no need to fear your dentist, anxiety in the dentist’s chair is quite common. Anesthesia simply helps you to become more comfortable.

You should never feel that you cannot discuss sedation with us. It is important to find out whether or not a dentist adheres to ADA guidelines and if they have a state permit. Dr. Rosenfeld will be happy to answer all of your questions and relay his expertise and advice concerning the specific sedation approaches recommended.

These are the ADA recommendations for controlling different levels of pain and anxiety:

-When there is only minor discomfort, and OTC (over-the-counter) analgesic such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen and aspirin may be all that is needed.

-Another option for minor pain includes injectable lidocaine administered by needle and syringe to a localized area in order to numb the area. This can also be directly applied by topical surface agents.

-Oral anti-anxiety drugs like nitrous oxide (laughing gas) offer a great option for mild sedation. Totally safe and fast-acting, laughing gas is a very popular sedation option.

-Those patients who need a higher form of sedation due to anxiety or a more complicated dental procedure may receive higher doses of nitrous oxide, or even intravenous administration. For this level of discomfort relief, a dentist must have 60 hours of training including CPR certification, a course in emergency management, and have been monitored by professionals while performing at least 20 IV infusions of patients.

General anesthesia is deep sedation only for patients who are getting extensive surgery and/or display an inability to cooperate if awake. In these cases, the ADA requires the practitioner to have completed a residency in anesthesiology for dentistry.

If you’re at all concerned about pain or anxiety management with dental visits, call Dr. Robert Rosenfeld, DDS for more information. Please contact our office in Solana Beach, CA to make an appointment at: 858-755-1189.