What is general anesthesia dentistry and how does it work?
Are you trying to figure out what general anesthesia dentistry is and how it works? Read this article to learn everything you need to know.
The most recent study shows that almost 23.6% of kids and 58.8% of adolescents in Canada have at least one decayed tooth. Overall, untreated coronal cavities affected 5.5% of the Canadian population.
Unfortunately, untreated cavities and decay can lead to tooth loss. This is among the top reasons that an estimated 6% of Canadians aged 20 to 79 are completely toothless. The same goes for almost one in four Canadians between 60 and 79 years old.
The question is, what’s driving Canadians to forego treatment in the first place?
For some, it’s due to their dental anxiety or phobia.
Fortunately, general anesthesia dentistry can help quell these dental worries or fear.
Ready to learn all about how this type of dentistry can help you and your oral health? Then let's dive right into it!
Canadians and Their Unease or Fear of Going to the Dentist
In a survey of 1,100 Canadians, 5.5% reported being "very afraid" of seeing a dentist. This has led to half of them either avoiding or cancelling their appointment with the dentist.
In another study, 7.8% to 10.7% of Canadian participants had a dental anxiety score (DAS) of more than 13. Considering that 20 is the highest DAS score, a score of 13 shows a significant level of anxiety.
So, what exactly is dental anxiety and phobia?
Dental anxiety is a general feeling of unease about visiting the dentist. For some Canadians, simply thinking about the dentist already makes them anxious. They may feel so anxious that some of them end up putting off or cancelling their appointments.
Dental phobia, on the other hand, is an extreme fear of going to the dentist. People who have this feel much more intense symptoms than those with dental anxiety. Thinking about the dentist can leave them panic-stricken.
Some people may also have dental fears due to an existing phobia, such as aichmophobia, or fear of needles. Some are also afraid of going to the dentist because they have hemophobia, or fear of blood. In fact, a study found that 21.2% of 449 Canadian women had fear of these two, plus injury, doctors, and dentists.
General Anesthesia Dentistry to the Rescue
General anesthesia dentistry is also known as deep sedation dentistry. It makes use of general anesthesia, a combination of medications that guide you to sleep. These usually include inhaled gases and/or intravenous (IV) medications.
Under this anesthesia, you won't feel any pain, as you'll be asleep throughout the procedure. Your anesthetized brain also won't react to pain signals, so you won't wake up during the treatment. In fact, you won’t even remember any part of the dental treatment!
For these reasons, this type of dentistry a good option for people with dental anxiety or phobia. If your fears are making you skip dental visits, dentistry under anesthesia can help.
Dental Services You Can Get Under General Anesthesia
General anesthesia is available for most general dental treatments, including dental cleanings. Tooth cleanings aren't painful, but conditions like gag reflex, developmental delays, or even anxiety may affect the patients ability to tolerate the procedure. Some children may also be too afraid to get in the dentist's chair for minor cleanings.
You can also see a dentist for general anesthetic-aided treatments like tooth fillings. This is especially true if you have symptoms of severe dental cavities. Severe tooth decay is painful enough as is, so you may want to get anesthesia for its treatment.
General anesthesia can also make longer procedures, like root canal therapy, a breeze. As well as surgical procedures like molar or wisdom tooth extraction.
How Safe Is It?
In Alberta, dentists who use general anesthesia follow strict standards of practice. Moreover, they need to register with Dental Health Alberta to administer sedation. In 2018, for instance, only 23 of the 2,753 dentists in the province had a permit to provide general anesthesia.
Deep sedation, after all, requires a high level of knowledge, skills, and experience. At Park Fee Dental our team involved in sedation dentistry is comprised of dentists, dental anesthetists, nurses and dental assistants.
Strict guidelines and a skilled team help to ensure safe, competent care.
General Anesthesia Benefits Patients in the Long Term
Keep in mind that the mouth is home to at least 700 species of bacteria. Many of these are the "bad" kind, and they're responsible for the plaque that forms on the teeth. Plaque is the sticky film that gives your mouth an "icky" feeling if you haven't brushed in a few hours.
In fact, plaque can become detectable in as little as 12 hours. Failure to completely remove it within five days can already trigger gum inflammation. In less than a month, all the bacteria in that unremoved plaque can already cause gingivitis.
Brushing and flossing do help prevent these oral health problems. However, they don’t remove 100% of plaque all the time. Plaque that remains on the teeth can also harden into tartar, which can speed up tooth decay and gum disease.
This is why you should see your dentist at least twice a year. This gives your dentist the chance to detect early signs of problems like tooth decay or gum disease. It also lets your dentist determine any dental abnormalities you may have developed.
If you or your child has dental anxiety or phobia, you're likely skipping dental visits. This robs you of the long-term benefits of comprehensive and preventative dental treatments.
General anesthesia can help you or your little ones feel more at ease about going to the dentist. Since it makes dental procedures painless, there's less to feel scared about.
As a result, you or your children will feel more inclined to get the dental procedures you need. In the long run, getting these treatments on time will help you achieve better teeth and gum health.
Don't Let Dental Anxiety Get in the Way of Your Oral Health
Now that you know how it works and how safe it is, you can decide if it's a good fit for you or your kids.
Ready to enjoy the many benefits of dentistry under sedation or general anesthesia? Then please don't hesitate to connect with our dental team here at Park Fee Dental! We'll be happy to answer any questions you have about our sedation dentistry services.