Selecting a Sedation Dentist
Sedation dentistry treatments should be performed under the guidance of a dentist and staff specifically trained in sedation procedures. In the case of oral conscious sedation, for example, such training typically involves between 18 and 25 hours of education.
The American Dental Association and most state dental boards and colleges (the government entities in U.S. and Canada that oversee professional licensing) require dentists to have specialized training in sedative techniques, equipment, medications and medical history analysis to ensure that they are appropriately skilled in the practice of sedation dentistry.
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If you consider yourself an anxious patient and are apprehensive about routine dental visits, let alone any necessary dental treatment, you might consider looking for a qualified sedation dentist. You may find the following considerations helpful when selecting a sedation dentist and determining if the sedation option is right for you:
Education: Inquire about the dentist and staff members' specific level of education in sedation dentistry. There is limited training provided by dental schools specific to sedation dentistry. However, continuing education programs provided by organizations such as the DOCS Education offer more specialized training programs. Additionally, specialty training in anesthesia can be obtained during a dentist's post-graduate study.
Ongoing Training: Participation in organizations such as DOCS provides opportunities for ongoing education and training in sedation dentistry techniques, practices and related procedures. Additional training opportunities are also available through the American Dental Society of Anesthesiology and the American Society of Dental Anesthesiologists. Ask if the dentist regularly attends education programs sponsored by these groups.
Your Medical History and Medications: Bring a complete list of your medical history, including any medications and supplements you are taking, and review the list with the dentist to ensure that sedation dentistry is the right choice for your particular situation.
In-Office Patient Monitoring: The safe practice of sedation dentistry requires the use of monitoring equipment including a pulse oximeter, oxygen equipment and reversal medication agents in case of an adverse reaction (a very rare occurrence) while a procedure with sedation is performed. Be sure to check that monitoring equipment is readily available in the procedure room where your treatment will be performed.
Once you have made the decision to move ahead with sedation dentistry, be sure to review the Informed Consent form for additional details about the procedure, equipment, advantages and risks associated with your treatment. Experienced sedation dentists should have a comprehensive form and be willing to spend time with you to discuss any aspect of sedation dentistry. Inquire about pre- and post-procedure instructions. This list will better prepare you and your companion for the day of the procedure.