Sedation Dentistry

Dental anxiety may have debilitating effects for numerous people.

A new study by Case Western Reserve University showed that dental anxiety could cause a person to flinch even after a cotton swab makes minimal contact with his or her gums. Many other people don’t even bother to visit the dentist based on their anxiety.

The only way to combat this issue, in many cases, is to come up with new methods of sedation. Moderate sedation allows the patient to be conscious by suppressing the brain’s reaction to pain and stress while still enabling the person to communicate with the dentist.

Madhavi Setty, DDS, recently wanted to find out more about how dental specialties use sedation. The study appears in the Journal of Endodontics.

The information comes from a study of 84 people who received care and sedation during a visit to a Case Western Reserve dental clinic in endodontics, periodontics and oral surgery between 2010 and 2012. The patient’s age, sex and other medical conditions were taken into account. The patients ranged between 8 and 88 and 63 percent were women.

More than half of the patients required moderation sedation to calm anxiety. The study also showed 15 percent feared needles, 15 percent feared local anesthesia failures and 8 percent feared an issue with a severe gag reflex and claustrophobia from the rubber dam.

An issue for sedating anxious patients is that not all endodontists are qualified to administer it. Many endodontic programs don’t teach these procedures.

The Department of Endodontics at Case Western Reserve just introduced training for moderation sedation last year. The endodontic training abides by the guidelines of the Ohio State Dental Board and the American Dental Association. The rules and guidelines are required to qualify for the necessary certification to administer sedation.