“I really get anxious at the dentist’s office,” Angela said. “Even a simple cleaning freaks me out. I wind up making appointments and then cancelling them at the last minute because I just can’t deal. Then I found out about sedation dentistry. The idea that I could have anesthesia for dental work sounds great – but how do I know it will be safe?”
Sedation dentistry is nothing new. People have had anxiety about dental treatment for as long as there has been dentists! The use of medications, nitrous oxide, or anesthesia to calm a patient during the dental procedure has been part of our Boston area dental practice for over 30 years.
There are several factors to take into account when considering the safety of sedation dentistry. Working with an experienced licensed dentist is important; if you’ll be having anesthesia, you want to make sure you’re working with an experienced licensed anesthesiologist as well. Anesthesia is not appropriate for everyone; if you have other health concerns going on, your dental anesthesiologist may wish to consult with your regular physician to ensure the safest possible treatment options for you.
As a general rule, using the minimal amount of sedation required to accomplish treatment goals is best. There is a tremendous amount of individual variation among people’s anxiety levels, tolerance for calming medications, and expected amount of time treatment will take. For this reason, your Boston dentist will develop an individualized treatment plan with your needs in mind: this may be very different than what may have been prescribed for a friend or relative, because it’s based on your needs rather than theirs. Look for that one-on-one interaction as a sign you’re in a safe treatment environment. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions. A safe provider wants all of their patients to be as informed and comfortable as possible: it makes for better outcomes and greater patient satisfaction overall.