Dental Tips Blog


Is Dental Sedation Safe for Children?

Dental sedation uses specific drugs to help someone relax during a procedure. It’s used for patients of all ages, but is especially good for children who may be too young or nervous to tolerate treatment.

Sedation keeps the routine treatments routine; and the complicated procedures simpler and comfortable.

Sedation in Pediatric Dentistry

Kids qualify for the same dental sedation techniques as adults do. The doses are just a lot smaller!

These include oral medication, laughing gas, IV-administered sedative, and general anesthesia. If your child ever needs general anesthesia, that’s provided in a hospital or dental surgery.

The other methods are very low-risk to administer as long as everything is carefully planned.

Make Sedation Dentistry Safer

Parents play a key role in ensuring that their child enjoys a safe and successful procedure. It’s essential to follow the dentist’s instructions to a T.

These often include:

  • Dietary restrictions in the hours before treatment
  • Dressing the child in loose-fitting clothing
  • Sharing the child’s complete medical history
  • Not bringing along other kids who can cause a distraction
  • Comforting their child

Everyone is closely monitored during sedation treatment, but kids in particular. The dental team will be constantly checking things like blood pressure, temperature, and heart rate.

There’s no reason to be nervous about kids getting sedation when everyone does their part to keep treatment safe!

When Your Child Needs Sedation

Remember that sedation helps your child to stay safe and relaxed during delicate dental procedures. They’ll feel much better about dozing or giggling their way through treatment than struggling in fear and frustration.

Talk with your dentist about which sedation options are best for your family.

Posted on behalf of:
Dr. David Kurtzman D.D.S.
611 Campbell Hill St. NW #101
Marietta, GA 30060
(770) 980-6336


Hospital Sedation Dentistry

Severe anxiety about dental care, or not being able to endure a typical treatment visit can leave some people wondering how they can get the care that they know they deserve. That’s why some dentists will offer hospital based sedation services for their patients. With hospital sedation dentistry, patients can benefit from getting all of their care completed during a single treatment, and be completely unaware of the process as it is being performed. What better way is there to help patients return their oral health back to optimal levels?

Patients that benefit the most from hospital sedation include those that:

•           Have special needs

•           Have severe anxiety about dental care

•           Are unable to sit still for treatment

•           Want to have all treatment completed at once

•           Need complex dental care needs or large treatment plans

When hospital sedation is performed, a licensed anesthesiologist will sedate and monitor the patient throughout the entire treatment, until all anesthesia meds are discontinued and consciousness has returned. There is no recollection of any dental treatment even being performed, because sedation is achieved on a general level through intravenous drug delivery. Patient safety is one of the biggest benefits of utilizing hospital sedation, because many experts are on hand to oversee every step of the care process.

Putting dental care off can only lead to further dental needs later on, some of which can be very serious. By utilizing hospital sedation, dental patients can get their needs all taken care of in a timely manner, no matter what the patient’s needs are. Many people that have special needs or are just too afraid of dental care can greatly benefit by the comfort and convenience of hospital sedation.

Posted on behalf of David Kurtzman



Sedation Dentistry Includes More Than Nitrous Oxide

All methods of anesthesia for oral procedures are determined largely on the nature of the specific procedure to be performed or by the patient’s level of anxiety and apprehension. Nitrous Oxide is commonly used for calming anxious patients before any oral procedure. Nitrous Oxide is a harmless gas that is administered nasally in an oxygen mixture. It is quickly effective and dissaptes just as quickly so that the patient is not left with any kind of hungover feeling. Usually, this is given in conjunction with a local anesthetic, which enables the patient to remain conscious, but relaxed and comfortable throughout the dental procedure. A local anesthetic is administered in the area where the work is to be performed in all oral surgery procedures.

Another option is intravenous anesthesia, which includes I.V. sedation and general anesthesia for all types of oral surgery or other dental care.  In most cases this is done in the dentist’s or oral surgeon’s office, but if general anesthesia is used it will be administered in a specially equipped surgical suite or hospital operating room. Some patients with severe anxiety may choose this method even for relatively simple procedures. Generally, individuals experiencing the removal of wisdom teeth or a dental implant will choose this procedure. This method of sedation may also be necessary in cases where local anesthesia fails to anesthetize the surgical site, as can happen where infection is present. With this sedation technique, the patient is asleep and completely unaware of their surroundings; vital signs are closely monitored.

For those individuals undergoing extensive procedures such as jaw reconstruction or TMJ surgery, the patient is usually admitted to a hospital or surgery center where lgeneral anesthesia is administered by an anesthesiologist. Hospital sleep dentistry is also recommended for patients with medical conditions such as heart or lung disease. Be sure to talk to your dentist about your level of anxiety and preferred choice of anesthesia.

Posted on behalf of Dr. David Kurtzman



Oral and General Anesthesia

Sedation options in dentistry have allowed even the most nervous and apprehensive of dental patients to experience comfort during their visits and return to receive the treatment that they’ve put off for extended amounts of time. There are typically two types of sleep dentistry that are available to dental patients who want to be able to have sedation services during their appointments.

Oral Anesthesia

Oral anesthesia is done by having patients take a sedative medication approximately one hour prior to their scheduled appointment time. You will need to be escorted to and from the office by a friend. If the sedative is not strong enough then you will be given an additional dosage at the time of the appointment. This medication causes patients to enter into a light sleep, but they can still respond to staff if nudged or asked a question. The patient however, will most likely not remember anything about the appointment or even answering questions. Oral anesthesia wears off a couple of hours after the treatment after the patient has been returned home.

General Anesthesia

Patients that choose general anesthesia are sedated using IV medication delivered at the time of the appointment. Within just a few minutes the patient is completely sedated. Appointment times can vary with general anesthesia, so it can be used for shorter visits or for completing all necessary therapy within a single visit. After the treatment is completed the medication is cut off and the patient’s consciousness returns while still in the treatment room. It is still necessary to have someone escort you home after your procedure.

The benefits of sleep dentistry allow every patient to have their needs taken care of!


Hospital Sleep Dentistry

When you are looking for a dentist who is qualified to perform full sedation dentistry, keep in mind that the term “sedation dentistry” covers a very broad range of sedation levels. There are many dentists who offer sedation dentistry, but only a few specially trained dentists offer true full sedation dentistry.  Full sedation dentistry is often referred to as hospital sleep dentistry because most dentists perform full sedation dentistry in a specially equipped hospital surgical suite.

Dentists use varying levels of sedation to provide a comfortable, safe dental experience to their patients.  Sedation dentistry includes very mild sedation such as nitrous oxide or laughing gas.  A deeper level of conscious sedation can be achieved with oral or intravenous sedatives.  At this level of sedation, the patient is conscious but in in a relaxed, dream-like state.  Many dentists have the training and experience to safely perform conscious sedation.

Full unconscious sedation dentistry is a highly specialized field of dentistry.  Only dentists who have received extensive training are qualified to perform dentistry on patients who are fully sedated.  These procedures take place in a hospital operating room or surgical suite with the assistance of surgical nurses and an anesthesiologist.

There are many dental patients who can benefit from hospital sleep dentistry.  In fact, there are some patients who cannot safely receive the dental care they need any other way. These include patients who are unable to get numb with regular anesthesia, those with severe gag reflex, and patients suffering from dental phobia.  In addition, hospital sleep dentistry is an excellent alternative for patients with physical, emotional, or developmental disabilities who cannot tolerate dental care in a traditional setting.



Difference Between Conscious and Unconscious Sedation

Sedation dentistry is a wonderful option for many people who would not or cannot tolerate dentistry in a traditional dental setting.   Many people have a fear of visiting the dentist, some of which can develop into a true “dental phobia”.  An estimated 40,000 to 50,000 have dental phobia sufficient to prevent them from seeking dental care.

Many other people have physical or developmental disabilities that make it difficult for them to receive dental care.  Others may have an uncontrollable gag reflex or they may not respond to local anesthetic such as Novocain. As a result, these patients avoid getting needed dental care and their oral health and overall health suffers.

Sleep and sedation dentistry is a type of dentistry where the patient is fully or partially sedated during the procedure.  Many advertisements for sedation dentistry suggest that the patient will be able to sleep through the procedure.

In some cases this may be true, but there is a difference between conscious sedation and unconscious sedation.  In conscious sedation, the patient is given a sedative either orally or intravenously the puts the patient in a very relaxed and drowsy state.

In some cases the patient may doze off, but the patient is always conscious.  They can respond to questions and follow directions.  Conscious sedatives partially block memory formation so even if the patient was not actually asleep, it may seem that way since they have little or no memory of the procedure.

In unconscious sedation, general anesthesia is used to fully sedate the patient.  The patient is unconscious throughout the procedure and cannot respond to questions or directions.

Whether conscious or unconscious sedation is right depends on each patient’s situation.  Talk to a qualified sleep and sedation dentist about the type of sedation that is best for you.


Dental Care for Patients With Rett Syndrome

Rett syndrome is a rare genetic disorder that primarily affects young females.  Most males with the disorder die during infancy.  Believed to be caused by a genetic mutation, Rett syndrome usually appears between the ages of 6 to 18 months.  Up to that point, the child develops normally, but then stops developing and begins to regress, losing fine motor skills and speech skills.

When the disease has fully developed, most individuals display repetitive hand and tongue movements, lack of motor control, and limited communication skills.  Most patients suffer from frequent seizures, shaking, abnormal breathing, and the inability to control their movements.

Dental care for patients with Rett syndrome can be very difficult.  Due to the patient’s inability to control their movements, frequent seizures, and breathing difficulties, traditional dental practices can be dangerous for these patients.

At the same time, it is very important for patients with Rett syndrome to maintain good oral health.  Most Rett syndrome patients, especially adolescents, have difficulty eating and accordingly do not get sufficient nutrition.  Poor oral health can make this problem even worse.

If you are a caregiver for a person with Rett syndrome, consider a consultation with a dentist who specializes in sleep and sedation dentistry.  Dentists who practice in this specialty area have advanced training in administering moderate to full sedation and treating dental patients under sedation.

Sleep and sedation dentistry is a humane, safe, painless way for many hard to treat patients to receive the dental care they need including everything from cleanings to filling cavities and other dental procedures.  In some cases, moderate conscious sedation is sufficient for the patient to comfortably tolerate the treatment in the dentist’s office.  For other, the safest and most comfortable option is full sedation in a specially equipped hospital operating suite.  Your dentist will determine an appropriate level of sedation depending on the needs of the patient.


Dental Care for Parkinson’s Patients

Parkinson’s disease is thought to be caused by low levels of dopamine in the brain and is characterized by tremors, slowness of movement, and rigidity. These symptoms tend to become more pronounced as the disease progresses.  The disease may be accompanied by other symptoms such as dementia and anxiety.  Some Parkinson’s patients may have swallowing difficulties.

Good dental care can be a challenge for Parkinson’s patients.  The inability to control movement makes traditional dental care in a dentist’s office difficult or even dangerous.  Getting regular dental care for Parkinson’s patients is important for the patient’s oral and overall health.  Due to poor motor control, many patients have difficulty brushing their teeth properly.  Without regular professional dental care, oral heath can rapidly deteriorate

Poor oral health has been linked to heart disease.  In addition, Parkinson’s patients require a diet with higher than normal caloric intake, but dental issues can cause the patient to eat less or to consume foods that have low nutritional values.

For home dental care, many patients find that using an electric toothbrush is an effective technique.  The electric toothbrush has greatly improved the oral hygiene of many Parkinson’s patients.

Getting effective routine dental care depends on the extent of the disease.  In the early stages of the disease, strategic timing of the patient’s visits to the dentist to coincide with the most effective periods of the patient’s medication can be enough for the patient to tolerate traditional dentistry.

As the disease progresses, dental procedures may be more safely and comfortably completed with the patient partially or fully sedated.  There is a small group of dentists who specialize in sleep and sedation dentistry.  These dentists are better equipped and experienced treating special needs patients.


Anxiety and Pain Control at the Dentist

Your dentist has a range of options when it comes to minimizing the pain, discomfort, and anxiety that may be present in a visit to the dentist.  An understanding of the options can help you have a productive discussion with your dental care provider.

Local anesthesia such as Novocain has long been the primary means of numbing the area of the patient’s mouth where the dental work is to be accomplished.  For many patients, local anesthesia is adequate to provide a comfortable dental experience.

For those patients who need more than a local anesthetic, your dentist can choose from a range of sedation levels.  While anesthesia refers to the elimination or reduction of pain, sedation is a depressed level of consciousness ranging from minimal sedation to fully unconscious sedation.  Sedation also has a pain reduction component in addition to the depression of consciousness and it reduces or eliminates anxiety.

Sedation is a continuum from minimal sedation to full sedation, but it can be broken up into rough categories. Minimal sedation is usually achieved through the use of oral medication taken before the appointment or the use of nitrous oxide.  The patient is conscious and can easily respond to questions.

Moderate sedation is achieved using oral sedatives or mild intravenous sedative.  The patient is very drowsy and can answer questions, but may fall asleep during the procedure.

Deep sedation is usually achieved through the administration of intravenous sedatives.  The patient can be awoken with some effort and may have difficulty responding to questions.

The deepest level of sedation is unconscious sedation under general anesthesia.  The patient is unconscious and cannot be awoken to answer questions.

Not all dentists use the full range of available sedation.  Most dentists are qualified to use minimal to moderate sedation, but only dentists with advanced training in sleep and sedation dentistry can offer deep sedation and general anesthesia.  Talk to your dentist about the level of sedation that is right for you.


Candidates for Hospital Sleep Dentistry

Sleep and sedation dentistry refers to a broad category of sedation alternatives used by dentists to relax patients and minimize discomfort and pain.  Arguably it includes everything from nitrous oxide (laughing gas), oral sedatives, and intravenous sedatives to full unconscious sedation under general anesthesia.  Each level of sedation best fits the needs of certain types of dental patients with some overlap depending on the needs of the patient and the dental procedures to be performed.

The deepest level of sedation used in dentistry is full unconscious sedation under general anesthesia.  A qualified anesthesiologist sedates and monitors the patient while the dentist performs the dental procedures.  Even though an anesthesiologist is involved, the dentist needs advanced training to perform dentistry under general anesthesia.  Most sleep and sedation dentists use a hospital operating room specially equipped for dentistry to treat dental patients under general anesthesia.

Generally speaking, your dentist will use the lowest level of sedation that will allow the procedure to be safely performed while providing the patient with a comfortable dental experience.  The dentist and patient will determine if general anesthesia is a good option, but possible candidates include patients who have severe dental anxiety, uncontrollable gag reflex, or physical, developmental, or medical conditions that make general anesthesia a better option than more moderate conscious sedation.

General anesthesia can also be a good alternative for patients that need extensive dental work.  The patient can have all of the work done in one or two procedures instead of having to return to the dentist’s office repeatedly over the course of weeks or months.  The patient only has a single recovery period and only has to take one or two days off from work.

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