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Although very rare, many fear that complications related to sedation dentistry are reason enough to not consider this comfortable alternative to traditional dental procedures.
Is dental sedation safe? As with any type of medical procedure, there will always be risks in dentistry. In theory, even something as simple as getting a filling could result in complications; but the same can be said for medical treatments like getting stitches or a biopsy. Dentistry is not off the hook when it comes to potential health complications, especially if there are underlying medical conditions that the patient or their healthcare provider doesn’t know about. Having sedation performed by anesthesia professionals, even those in a hospital setting, will always require some type of waiver or informed consent.
Fortunately, dental sedation procedures have a much lower death rate(nearly three times less) than anesthesia performed in hospital operating rooms. In most cases, the only side-effect of anesthesia performed by dental experts like oral surgeons is nausea, affecting approximately 6% of patients.
Your provider will generally work with you to discuss common risk factors such as medical conditions that could cause complications if not disclosed.
Because licensed sedation dentists understand the responsibility of ensuring your safety, it’s essential to complete a thorough screening and health assessment with your dental provider before undergoing sedation. Even something as simple as a food allergy should be disclosed, regardless as to whether you feel it’s applicable or not. By having a thorough assessment of your entire health history, a licensed sedation dentist can safely administer regulated medications that allow for a comfortable and positive dental experience.
Most sedation dentistry experts, including those responsible for educating and training new sedation dentists, agree that the more dangerous alternative is to leave oral infections untreated, which can sometimes result in life-threatening illnesses requiring hospitalization or even death, especially in young children. Sedation makes it possible for such patients to access the level of care they require in a safe and calm environment. Without sedation, many anxious patients or those with severe dental phobia typically go without receiving the care that they need and deserve.
Mortality with sedation dentistry is extremely rare, with most cases occurring in developing countries or in patients with compromised health conditions.
In the United States, all dentists offering sedation must complete extensive training and licensure to offer specific types of sedative medications within their practice. Not all dentists are qualified to perform the same level of sedation or have experience with different types of sedative procedures.
Find a licensed sedation dentist near you to learn more about their individual accreditations and experience. During your initial consultation feel free to ask questions about how many sedation procedures they’ve completed or if they have experience seeing patients with similar medical concerns. You can also ask to see his or her qualifications or find out which type of sedation training they’ve completed, or learn more about the courses they’ve participated in. Similar licensing information should always be displayed within the practice setting or available online through licensure verification provided by the governing state dental board.