How Does Sedation Dentistry Help Special Needs Patients?
Sedation dentistry often falls in the same line as special needs dentistry programs since sedation is usually needed to enable dental hygienists and dentists to perform dental procedures and treatments for patients who would otherwise struggle to remain calm and still for without it. Dental offices that do accommodate special needs dentistry often rearrange their services, provide additional staff, have special equipment, and create an office environment that can fully support the needs of adults and children who are disabled.
Whether the disability is physical, developmental, behavioral, or emotional, dentists who acquire special needs dentistry as a full-time service are far and few, making their services high in demand. Adults and children who are provided with special needs dental care can fall under any of the spectrums of disability, including patients with autism, ADHD, down syndrome, spina-bifida, MS (multiple sclerosis), muscular dystrophy, Parkinson’s disease, etc. Patients who will need special needs dental care also include individuals who are blind, deaf or require accommodation for a wheelchair.
Dentists who cater to adults and children with Special Healthcare Needs (SHCN) often combine special needs dentistry practices with sedation dentistry, as these two services play a cooperative role in providing dental services that are both convenient and pleasant to the patient’s needs. Sedation dentistry is the practice of providing anesthesia or medication to patients receiving dental procedures. The main benefit of providing sedation medication during a dental procedure is to alleviate the overall fear or stress the patient will have, either before or during the dental exam, so that their experience is pleasant and free of worry.
Being put under sedation during a dental procedure is a common practice for dentists performing cleanings when an adult or child has special needs. Sedation benefits the patient as it helps them to remain calm and relaxed when they would normally become frightened from the noise of dental drills, appearance of medical equipment, and having a dental hygienist work away in their mouths with dental tools. Caregivers are also assisted as the dental staff members are experienced with transferring special needs patients from their vehicles, into wheelchairs, and to a comfortable resting spot while they receive dental procedures.
There are three types of sedation used by dentists, which are categorized from least to maximum amount and are labeled as minimal, moderate, and aggressive. The most commonly used is minimal sedation, commonly known as the combination of nitrous oxide and oxygen mixed together to form a gas (aka, “laughing gas”), which is administered through a mask and inhaled by the patient. Moderate sedation is taken in pill form prior to the dentist appointment and causes a patient to fall asleep during the entire procedure. The most aggressive form of sedation is given by syringe but it normally only administered when the patient is scheduled for oral surgery. Most medications given for special needs patients during a dental exam causes the patient to fall asleep during the entirety of the dental exam with zero side effects other than feeling sleepy. All in all, patients needing special needs dentistry can rely on dentists with SHCN services to provide quality dental care.
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