September 14, 2023

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October 6, 2022

Who really truly loves sitting in the dental chair and having their teeth looked at, drilled, or even pulled out!? I am an oral surgeon who is used to dental treatment and my answer to this question would be “not me!”. There is something about dental treatment that feels different to any other health care. Perhaps it’s those injection needles, drills, or just the thought of being in a dental setting – something about dentistry can trigger anxiety or sometimes even irrational fear for a lot of people. It’s not infrequent that I hear people say, shortly after walking into the surgery: “I would rather give birth than have a tooth extraction” – thanks to sedation techniques though, the vast majority of our patients walk out of the surgery saying “actually, it was fine!”.

Bosun Hong

Specialist Oral Surgeon

What is sedation and what to expect from it?

Sedation is a technique whereby a sedative drug is given to help people relax. It is important to note that sedation is different to general anaesthesia. With sedation, you will stay awake but feel drowsy and much less aware of what is happening around you. The sedative drugs will not have the ability to numb the teeth, so a dental injection is still necessary. However, you will be in a much more relaxed state before numbing of the teeth is carried out.

With some types of sedation (for example injection of a sedative drug called midazolam through the vein) people often don’t remember much of what happened during treatment. This is because of the effect of the sedative drug and most patients don’t seem to mind this at all. The sedative drugs used in dental settings have excellent safety margins, recovery is much quicker with sedation compared to general anaesthesia and our waiting list for sedation is much shorter than the hospital waiting list for general anaesthesia.

Sedation Options

There are a number of ways in which a sedative drug can be delivered. At Bristol Dental Specialists, you might be suitable for sedation:  

• by breathing in gas through a nosepiece (inhalation)

• by injection into a vein in their hand or arm (intravenous)

• by swallowing a medicine (oral)

We can agree on which of these methods would work best for you when we meet face-to-face for a pre-treatment consultation. To reach a decision about the optimal sedation option, we would consider factors including the level of your dental anxiety, the length of the planned dental treatment, medical history, and social circumstances.

Can children and teenagers have sedation?

The short answer is yes, but some sedation methods (for example intravenous) tend to be reserved for older teenagers or adults. As a rule, for people aged under 12 years old, the choice of sedation method would be inhalation sedation. The physical and mental development of every person varies and may not always correlate with their chronological age. At Bristol Dental Specialists, we make a bespoke anxiety control plan after individual assessment of psychological and physical maturity and with consideration to the risks.

Questions? Please contact us

The majority of our patients with dental anxiety become relaxed enough with the help of sedation and are then able to receive dental treatment that they often thought they never could. We would love to welcome you to our practice for sedation consultation, read more about this service on our website.

If you are a dentist looking to refer a patient, you can be assured that they will be in safe hands. Our simple online referral forms can be found here. Alternatively, as an introduction to our services, we are also able to offer a free initial video consultation to discuss your case and answer any questions you may have.

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