Dental Tips Blog


Dental Care for the Special Needs Patient

All patients are special to their dentist, but patients with special needs require additional care and understanding when it comes to providing high quality dental care. Special needs dental patients include patients with developmental disabilities that makes providing dental care in a tradtional setting uncomfortable or dangerous to the health of the patient.

Because every patient has different needs, the dentist and staff will work closely with the caregiver of the patient to find out what works best to make that patient comfortable. Special needs patients are empowered by their dentist because their care plan and preventive routines will be tailored in a way that helps them as much as possible to be involved in their own care.

Various forms of sedation can be used to help special need dental patients undergo their dental procedures. This can range from just using nitrous oxide (laughing gas) to sleep sedation treatments. Sleep sedation can be performed using orally administered medication of through intravenous delivery. The level of sedation chosen will be based on the patient’s needs and past experiences with dental care.

Sleep sedation can allow dental patients to have all of their treatment needs completed in a single visit, instead of multiple appointments to the dental office. Another benefit of in-office sedation is that it allows special need patients to have all of their treatment completed inside of their normal dental office without having to travel to a hospital or surgical facility for the therapy.

Appointments are scheduled to fit around each patient’s schedule. Some patients are happier or more relaxed at different times of the day, so scheduling care during these times helps address the patient’s personal needs as well as their overall treatment experience.

Your dentist will work very closely with you to address all of your needs and concerns with every patient that comes into to their office, no matter how special their needs are.


Sedation Dentistry for Extensive Dental Work

Most Americans don’t exactly look forward to the next trip to the dentist, even just for routine cleanings, but except for those who suffer from moderate to severe dental anxiety, most patients tolerate a single dental procedure reasonably comfortably and go home with the satisfaction that it will be awhile before they need to sit in the dental chair again.

However, some patients need extensive dental work that cannot be comfortably completed in one dental appointment.  Maybe they put off their dental work a little too long, or their dental issues all appeared at about the same time, or the procedure is simply very complex and will take a long time for the dentist to complete the work.

Whatever the reason, these patients need two or more dental appointments for all of the necessary work to be performed.  That means going through the whole process two, three or more times:  taking time off work, sitting in the waiting room, getting injected with novocaine, enduring the procedure, and waiting for the novocaine to wear off.

Sedation dentistry offers a better alternative for dental patients who need extensive work.  Dentists who practice sleep and sedation dentistry use various levels of sedation to allow a patient to have all of their dental work completed in a single appointment.  Depending on the procedure and the needs of the patient, the dentist may put the patient into a mild, sleepy state or into a deeper, full sedation under general anesthesia.

With sedation dentistry, the patient does not have to make multiple trips to the dentist.  All of the work is done in one procedure.  The patient avoids the repeated dental visits and only has one recovery period.  Sedation dentistry is safe and comfortable.  In most cases, the patient sleeps through the procedure and has no memory of it when they awaken.

If you need extensive dental work, consult with a dentist who specializes in sleep and sedation dentistry.


Dental Care and Heart Problems

People with severe heart conditions should take extra precautions when getting dental care.  Patients with cardiac conditions such as congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, angina, and other heart problems have to be careful to  avoid unnecessary stress that can increase their blood pressure and aggravate existing heart conditions.

Unfortunately, many heart patients suffer from dental anxiety ranging from mild to severe.  Some heart patients avoid dental care altogether because they are concerned about the added stress that the dental procedure will cause.

An effective and safe alternative for heart patients is sleep and sedation dentistry.  Only a few dentists have the specialized training necessary to practice sleep and sedation dentistry.   They perform dental procedures on patients who are moderately or fully sedated.  The result is a low stress, painless and comfortable dental experience.

A sleep and sedation dentists will determine the appropriate level of sedation for each patient.  Some patients will be given intravenous anesthetics to place them in a drowsy, sleep-like state.  The patient is conscious and can answer questions, but they are so relaxed and comfortable that most patients will doze through the procedure and have no memory of it afterward.

For patients who need a deeper level of sedation, the dental procedures will be performed in a hospital operating room.  A qualified anesthesiologist will administer general anesthesia and monitor the patient while the dentist completes the work.

For patients with heart problems, sedation dentistry is a stress-free, comfortable option for receiving dental care.  Since there is such low stress, sleep and sedation dentistry is the safer alternative for heart patients who need to keep their blood pressure under control.


Pediatric Sleep and Sedation Dentistry

Sleep and sedation dentistry is an excellent alternative for patients who are difficult to treat in a traditional dental office setting or who cannot tolerate traditional dental care.  Candidates for sleep and sedation dentistry include patients with moderate to severe anxiety, patients with a severe gag reflex, developmentally or physically disabled patients, and patients who are allergic to or do not respond to novocaine.

In addition, sleep and sedation dentistry is a wonderful alternative for small children who are unable to hold still throughout a dental procedure or who might become uncooperative.  Instead of causing the child unnecessary stress and anxiety, sleep and sedation dentistry allows them to have a pleasant dental care experience with no pain or discomfort.

A small but growing group of experienced dentists have received the necessary training to provide sleep and sedation services.  If your dentist does not offer this service, they may be able refer you to a dentist who does.  In sleep and sedation dentistry, the patient is partially or fully sedated deeper than achieved with nitrous oxide (laughing gas).  The dentist determines the level of sedation necessary which can range from a moderate drowsy sleep like state to full unconscious sedation under general anesthesia.

Full sedation is usually performed in a hospital surgical suite with the assistance of an anesthesiologist and surgical nurses.  Milder forms of sedation can be handled either in the hospital or in the dentist’s office, depending on the needs of the patient.

Sedation dentistry is the safe, comfortable way for small children to receive high quality dental care.  The work can be finished in a shorter period of time and the child will be comfortable and relaxed throughout the procedure.


Hospital Dentistry

Hospital dentistry is a specialized type of sleep and sedation dentistry that provides dental services to those who cannot have dentistry in a traditional dental office setting.  Dentists who practice hospital dentistry receive additional training and education to prepare them to practice in this specialty area.

In hospital dentistry, all types of dental procedures including routine restorative procedures and more extensive oral surgeries are performed in a hospital operating room that has been equipped for dentistry.  A qualified anesthesiologist puts the patient under general anesthesia and monitors the patient while a specially trained dentist performs the necessary dental procedures.

Procedures are performed on an out patient basis.  After the dental procedures have been completed, the patient is awoken from general anesthesia and sent home after a brief recovery period.  The patient experiences no pain, discomfort, or anxiety during the procedure.

Hospital dentistry is an excellent alternative for a variety of different patients who are difficult to treat in a traditional dental office setting.  It is an excellent alternative for patients who suffer from debilitating dental phobia or anxiety and for those who are allergic to novocaine or who do not respond to novocaine.  Also, when a patient requires extensive dental work, hospital dentistry under full sedation can allow the work to be completed in a single visit.

One of the primary populations who can benefit from hospital dentistry are patients who suffer from a medical condition or physical or developmental disability that prohibits them from receiving dental care in a traditional setting.  Using full sedation under general anesthesia, a hospital sleep and sedation dentist can provide these patients excellent quality dental care without pain, discomfort, or distress.


Dentistry Under General Anesthesia

Many Americans do not get any dental care because they are unable to tolerate dental procedures performed in a traditional dental office setting.  For these people, local anesthesia such as novocaine or even mild sedation using nitrous oxide or oral medications are not sufficient for them to receive dental care.

Some patients suffer from severe dental anxiety while others are allergic to local anesthetics like novocaine.  In a few cases, novocaine is not effective.  These patients cannot get numb.   In addition, there are many patients who suffer from a medical condition, developmental disability, or physical disability that make it difficult, dangerous, or impossible for them to be treated in a traditional dental office setting.

These include Cerebral Palsy, Down’s Syndrome, Mentally Handicapped, Autism, Parkinson’s Disease, Heart Disease, physical deformities, brain stem injuries, stroke victims and other similar conditions.   This population has traditionally been underserved by dentistry which leads to poor oral health which can further complicate their condition.

Fortunately there are a growing number of dentists who have received advanced training and are qualified to provide dental care under general anesthesia.  This dental specialty is referred to as sleep and sedation dentistry and includes milder forms of sedation in addition to full sedation.  Sedation dentistry under general anesthesia is a safe and effective way to provide excellent, pain free dental care to people who would otherwise not be able to receive dental treatment.

Full sedation dentistry is performed by specially trained, highly skilled dentists like Dr. David Kurtzman, DDS, in a hospital operating room specially equipped for dentistry.  A qualified anesthesiologist and surgical nurses assist with the dental procedures.  The patient is fully sedated, feels no pain or discomfort, and has no memory of the procedure.  Sleep and sedation dentistry provides an opportunity for special needs patients to get the quality dental care they need.


Dental Care for Asberger’s Patients

Asberger’s Syndrome is a type of autism that is characterized by poorly developed social skills, obsessive or repetitive behavior, and some physical clumsiness.  People with Asberger’s can exhibit combative behavior and can suffer from increased anxiety levels.  It can be difficult for people with Asberger’s to tolerate even routine dental procedures in a traditional dental office environment.  Non-routine dental procedures are even more problematic.

An excellent alternative to traditional dental care for Asberger’s patients is sleep and sedation dentistry.   In this specialized area of dentistry, various levels of sedation are used to help the patient remain calm and relaxed during the procedure.  Sleep and sedation dentistry has proven to provide a safe, painless, and anxiety free means for Asberger’s patients to receive high quality dental care.

Dentists who practice sleep and sedation dentistry have additional training in sedation techniques.  They choose from a range of sedation levels to fit the needs of each case.  In some cases, a mild oral or intravenous sedative is administered in the dental office that places the patient in a drowsy, sleep like state.  Referred to as conscious sedation, the patient usually falls asleep during the procedure but can be awoken and can respond to questions.  The patient feels no pain or discomfort and rarely even remembers the procedure.

Other cases may require a deeper level of unconscious sedation under general anesthesia.  The procedure is performed in a hospital operating room and a qualified anesthesiologist administers the anesthesia and monitors the patient while the sleep and sedation dentist performs the dental procedures.  Full sedation is often the most safe and effective way to provide quality dental care to Asberger’s patients and others who cannot tolerate traditional dental care.

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