Sedation is often used in dentistry to help patients relax and get the dental care they need. Sedation dentistry may be recommended to cope with dental anxiety or for particularly invasive or lengthy procedures. Patients of all ages from children to adults can benefit from sedation.
Is sedation dentistry safe for senior citizens? Here’s what you should know before you or a loved one undergo sedation for a dental procedure.
What is Sedation Dentistry?
Sedation dentistry refers to medically induced relaxation techniques used during dental procedures. Sedation can provide a calming sensation or make you feel as if you are asleep, although you are technically conscious.
Types of Sedation
The following types of sedation are commonly used in dentistry:
- Nitrous oxide. Commonly referred to as laughing gas, nitrous oxide is administered through a mask worn over the nose. As you breathe in and out through your nose you’ll begin to feel a calming sensation that is sometimes described as euphoric. Your arms and legs may feel heavy and your fingers and toes may tingle. Nitrous oxide helps you relax through your procedure and wears off quickly afterwards when you breathe regular room air. You can go about your normal day after the procedure with no lingering effects.
- Oral sedation. An oral sedative can be prescribed in the form of a pill or liquid. For safety, it is usually given in the office just prior to the treatment. It will take several hours to wear off after your procedure. You’ll need someone to drive you to and from the appointment and you will not be able to function normally until the effects wear off.
- IV sedation. Administered intravenously, IV sedation provides a deeper level of sedation than oral sedation or nitrous oxide. When under IV sedation you may feel as if you are asleep, but you can still move and respond to questions or requests. You may not remember anything about the procedure afterwards. You’ll need someone to drive you to and from the appointment and you will not be able to function normally until the effects wear off.
Benefits of Sedation Dentistry
Sedation dentistry offers a variety of benefits to patients and their loved ones:
- Reduces stress. Dental anxiety puts a lot of stress on the patient as well as their caretakers and loved ones. Sedation helps the patient relax, which in turn allows everyone else to relax.
- Allows patients to get necessary dental care. Dental anxiety and fear can prevent some patients from getting the care they need. Sedation dentistry helps patients relax enough to get the necessary dental procedures that can improve their dental health.
- Safe for most patients. Most sedation options are safe for most patients. A thorough medical history review should always be done beforehand to determine eligibility.
Is Sedation Safe for Me or My Loved One?
If you are an older adult or a loved one or caregiver of an older adult, you may be wondering whether or not sedation dentistry is safe. Your dentist will want to get a full medical history and consult with your primary care physician if needed to determine if sedation is a safe option for you or the patient in question. Most senior citizens who are in good health will be eligible for sedation dentistry. If you have any existing health conditions, be sure to discuss them with your dentist so that they can make a fully informed decision about the safety of sedation.
Possible Safety Risks of Sedation for Seniors
Older adults with certain health conditions may have complications or difficulties with sedation, such as:
- Respiratory conditions. Nitrous oxide may not be safe for patients with respiratory conditions, especially those that require oxygen supplementation.
- Cognitive conditions. Conditions such as Alzheimers or dementia can lead to complications after anesthesia is used. Lighter levels of sedation may be preferable for patients with cognitive conditions.
Progressive Periodontics & Implant Dentistry Offers Sedation
We offer a range of sedation options for the benefit of our patients. Whether the procedure is involved or if the patient feels anxious, sedation can make it go more smoothly. In fact, sedation can make dental procedures even safer for elderly patients because it helps them remain calm while the doctor is working in their mouth. If you or a loved one are considering sedation dentistry, we would be glad to discuss the options with you.
Contact us today to learn more and schedule an appointment.