In the past, dentists used to have difficulties in treating patients with mental illness. Those who suffer chronic ailments such as PTSD, ADHD, anxiety disorders, depression, schizophrenia etc., tend develop severe fears of the dentist. Often, these type of patients become so fearful of the dentist they just skip their oral care altogether. This makes it even more traumatizing for when the time comes for a real dental emergency and the patient now requires a lot of work done.
Fortunately, thanks to sedation dentistry, patients with mental illnesses can be treated without any discomfort, both for them and the dentists. In fact, with sedation dentistry, even the most anxious or apprehensive patients become calm and relaxed during treatment, making it easier to receive the care they need.
What is Sedation Dentistry?
Sedation involves the use of pharmacological agents to reduce anxiety and apprehension in dental patients. The sedative agents make the patient drowsy enough that they become cooperative and can relax during the treatment. Dentists and patients often use sedation dentistry for different types of reasons such as those having phobias, past bad experiences, or for children who are uncooperative. Sedation dentistry has also been successfully used for treating patients with mental or neurological disabilities.
What are Different Forms of Sedation in Dentistry?
Dentists use different levels of sedation, depending upon the cooperation level and expected the duration of treatment.
This type of sedation is also called mild sedation. The patient is asked to wear a mask which provides a continuous supply of a mixture of oxygen and nitrous oxide (laughing) gas. Inhalation of nitrous oxide makes the patient drowsy, calm and relaxed. The effect of inhalation sedation with nitrous oxide goes away as soon the supply of the gas is terminated.
• What is Inhalation Sedation Used for? – inhalation sedation is used for performing short dental procedures. This type of sedation is effective in treating patients with mental illnesses who are mildly apprehensive, or those who suffer from minor uncontrolled body movements.
It is a form of mild-moderate sedation. In this type of sedation, dentists prescribe patients with an oral sedative. Patients have to take one dose at night before their appointment, and the other one four hours before they visit their dentists. Usually, sedative medication with a short or moderate duration of action is used for oral sedation. Unlike inhalation sedation, the sedative effects of oral sedation appear slowly and tend to last for a longer time.
• What is Oral Sedation Used for? – oral sedation is used in patients who are moderately apprehensive or anxious, and patients with mental or neurological illnesses who cannot sit still in the dental chair for prolonged durations. However, oral sedation is not used for mentally or physically challenged patients for whom oral route of administrating medication is not allowed by their physicians.
Intravenous (IV) Sedation
This is the deep level of sedation in an intravenous sedative agent is administered to a patient. The onset of sedative effect in IV sedative is very quick. However, it tends to last for a long time even after the supply of medication has been discontinued.
• What is IV Sedation Used for? – IV sedation is generally reserved for extremely apprehensive patients. It is also used in patients who have severe and uncontrolled movement of the limbs. In addition, dentists sometimes also use IV sedation in cases where very long procedures need to be performed in a single sitting.
Why Sedation is Beneficial for Patients with Mental Illnesses?
Patients suffering from mental illnesses are often so fearful of the dentist it can cause severe stress making the body go into a fight or flight type reflex that causes uncontrollable body movements, breathing, and emotions. Being in this state of agitation makes it difficult for the patient to sit for a prolong period of time and can make them feel suffocated, trapped, or a sense of losing control. As a result, dental care of these patients is often overlooked. Sedation dentistry offers an excellent opportunity for these patients so they can get the highest quality dental treatment.
Dental healthcare is the primary right of every human being. If you know anyone around you who is unable to get dental treatment because of mental or physical disability, tell them the benefits of sedation dentistry. In fact, to make a quality recommendation, you can try it out for yourself! Fear, phobias or mental problems and illnesses should not hamper anyone from enjoying good dental and physical health.