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Conscious Sedation – Is it for You?

Conscious Sedation
Conscious Sedation

Do you have dental anxiety?  Have you put off dental treatment because you can’t stand the thought of going into a dental office? Do you have a touchy gag reflex? Or maybe you have a lot of work to get done? You might think that Conscious Sedation is only for extreme circumstances, but really it’s for everyone.   But what is it?

Conscious Sedation is the use of light sedation medication that will keep you completely unaware but still conscious enough to be in the driver’s seat. So you may sleep and again you may not.  One thing our experience tells us is that you will not remember much about the whole procedure.   You are in the driver seat in the sense that you have complete control of all your airways unlike General Anesthetics and if you are uncomfortable you can let the dentist know and there is a reversal agent that will terminate all the sedation effects instantly. This makes the process very safe.  At that point a sedation office would stop all work until you are ready again.  You have the controls.  The best part?  Not only will you not remember a thing but possibly, all your dental work can be completed in one session.   

Have you not been to the dentist in a long time? Conscious Sedation is great if you have a lot of work to get done and would like to finish it all in one appointment. This way the dentist can work for several hours and complete in one session what would have taken multiple appointments. Not only will that save you time but the anxiety of going to the dentist and sitting in one position for hours.

Finally if you gag easily, which is a reflex and not your fault, conscious sedation will relax you while having dental work done. So you stay calm…breathe and the reflex is not activated.  Conscious sedation makes your dental experience one you’re happy to forget.

Anxiety is a common when going to the dentist.  Often a memory of a terrible experience, the sound or the odor of the dental office will trigger anxiety. Or sometimes it’s the fear of being out of control, needle phobia.  Whatever it is, you are not alone. Dental anxiety is real. 

Within Canada, the most recent study shows that 5.5% are very afraid, and 9.8% are somewhat afraid. However, in Ontario, where numerous fear and anxiety studies surrounding dental treatment have been conducted, the literature displays a higher value at roughly 10-17%.   This situation has serious negative cycle effects that are evident in patients’ behavior, including failed or postponed dental visits, lack of preventative care, and overall poor oral health ( Jonathan Campbell, DDS  2015-02-01  Oral Health Group)

Finding a clinic where all the staff understands this, is of the utmost importance.  The office should provide a safe and non-judgmental environment. Ask your dentist how they handle anxious patients. Make certain they make time to listen to your concerns and give you options.  It is NOT an option to “ just get over it”.   In the end, if the dental office is considerate and kind to high fear patients, they must be great with patients without fear.