Sedation Dentistry in St. Albert
The field of dentistry came to be by necessity and has a very long history as a result – but that doesn’t mean that patients always wanted to see the dentist. Historically, seeing the dentist spelled ‘pain’ and efforts to assist patients in managing discomfort were limited at best in terms of their effectiveness. Often, the medications used were ineffective, or, dangerous to the health of the patient. Modern dentistry, however, has established a practice of utilizing safe substances to assist in managing anxiety at the dentist. Now, not only do we have the ability to numb the nerves of the teeth to eliminate the feeling of pain during procedures, but we also have the ability to help our patients remain calm throughout the process.
What is Dental Sedation?
Since our limbic systems (nervous systems) are wired to detect threat, and since our threat detection system in the amygdala of the brain isn’t very good at differentiating between a real or perceived threat, many patients have an adrenal response from just thinking about going to the dentist.
Once our brain perceives a threat, cortisol and other stress hormones are secreted into the blood stream. Our heart rate increases, and blood is diverted away from our core and digestive tract, and into the extremities in preparation for fight or flight. While this biological mechanism may have saved our lives at one time, modern life offers little in the way of real threat as compared to life as hunter gatherers where lions, tigers and bears might have been a reality. Nonetheless, we have little control over our stress responses.
Sedation dentistry aims to suppress the nervous system to counter the physical symptoms of anxiety and can be offered in a variety of ways: orally, intravenously or by inhalation.
Our Approach to Anxiety
At Nuvo, we take a compassionate approach to the concern of anxiety during procedures. Whether our patients have had a bad previous dental experience elsewhere, have sensory processing challenges that make it difficult for them to remain calm or just don’t feel at ease, we work to understand your needs and meets your comfort needs with several sedation options. We provide minimum, moderate and deep sedation, to clients who require assistance in tolerating procedures.
Oral sedation is a minimum sedation method involving the use of benzodiazepine drugs or nitrous oxide gas to calm the nervous system. Oral sedation via benzodiazepines supress the nervous system such that the client remains conscious and alert and able to withdraw from pain. The patient will feel calm and sleepy throughout the procedure.
Oral sedation with nitrous gas also provides relief from anxiety and is administered through a mask where the gas is mixed with oxygen and delivered to the lungs. In some instances, we may recommend using both medication and gas together to assist in managing patient anxiety. While oral medications take several hours for the effects to subside, gas (often referred to as laughing gas) can be re-administered frequently throughout the dental procedure and wears off completely within several minutes with no residual effect on the organs.
Our standing as a non-hospital surgical facility (NHSF) means that we are able to provide moderate and deep sedation in our clinic without the need to refer out to a specialty clinic. Our clinic meets strict guidelines in order to maintain this accreditation, so you can rest assured that you are receiving hygienic and competent care throughout your time with us.
For more invasive procedures, or for patients who require deeper sedation, IV sedation is offered. IV sedation offers sedation via an intravenous drip into a vein in the hand or arm. This form of sedation allows patients to continue to breathe on their own and to maintain a stable heart beat throughout the dental procedure – and they will respond to cues but sometimes require physical stimulus in order to do so.
Deep sedation refers to the use of general anesthesia and is not often required except in complex situations. General anesthetic is the same form of sedation used in hospital settings for major surgeries and renders the patient unresponsive and unable to breathe on their own. In these situations, a team of skilled staff diligently attends to the needs and monitoring of the patient until they regain consciousness.
Notes about Dental Anxiety
It is often the case that even patients with severe dental anxiety can be put at east with gentle sedation and the reassurance of knowing that their concerns are heard and respected by our team of skilled professionals. If you or your family member is feeling concerned about their comfort during an upcoming procedure, we encourage you to discuss your concerns openly with your dentist so that we can make a plan that will increase the likelihood of a positive experience for all involved.
If you have questions about these or other services provided by our general dentists, call our clinic today to book a consultation.
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