Too many Americans are going without regular dental health care – and that’s the perfect recipe for letting minor dental issues develop into major problems that are much more costly-to-repair. Dental anxiety or unusual sensitivity to pain can result in people not getting regular checkups. That’s why one of the most important changes in the world of dentistry is that sedation dentistry is so much more readily available. This information is an opportunity for you to understand a bit about its history, current approaches, and why it is a very practical and safe consideration for dental patients. West Cobb Dentistry
How new is sedation dentistry?
You may not have heard much about it until the past few decades, but it’s been around for a long, long time. One of the sedation techniques that is still used today dates back to the 1840s. That is when Connecticut dentist Horace Wells first experimented with and introduced the use of nitrous oxide, sometimes called laughing gas. And it was actually another dentist (one of Wells’ students) who introduced the use of ether as a form of general anesthesia.
Since that 19th century progressive thought leadership in the field of dentistry and pain management, the range of techniques and medications used has broadened, and great strides have been made in providing safe administration of dental sedation. In the 21st century, both the world of dentistry and the world of medicine at large have an excellent understanding of the risks associated with all types of sedation and anesthesia.
In addition, dentistry also has a much better understanding of how two different issues – anxiety and pain – are so tightly intertwined. Dentists also are highly trained in the use of both psychological and pharmacological approaches that can be used to manage either or both issues.
Are there different types of sedation dentistry?
In October, 2007, the ADA (American Dental Association) adopted guidelines that address three different levels of sedation – minimal, moderate, and deep sedation. (While the document Guidelines for the Use of Sedation and General Anesthesia by Dentists is accessible on the ADA website, it is written in language more suited to those in the field of dentistry.)
What the general public should understand, though, is that these are guidelines – not legal requirements for practicing dentists. In the United States, the regulatory responsibility for the practice of dentistry lies with the individual states. Some states have recently adopted specific laws that govern the practice of sedation dentistry as a service to the residents of the state – to afford them the assurance of safety in the use of this increasingly popular dental service. Individual states are not bound to adoption of the ADA guidelines; they can define their own levels of sedation as well as the training, experience, and accreditation process that will be used. That is not to say that the ADA is not highly influential in the individual states’ decision-making process.