Main Street Dental Clinics News

What You Need to Know About Dental Sedation for Special Needs


Dentists use dental sedation in several types of situations in the office. While this practice may be commonplace, it can affect special needs individuals differently from the average patient. Being aware of these treatment changes can help you prepare your special needs clients before the visit.

About Dental Sedation

Dental sedation is a term that covers everything from light sedation to general anesthesia. It typically involves any sort of pre-medication that's required to calm the patient down to ensure compliance in the event that intravenous drugs are necessary, putting them into a state of sedation, maintaining that state throughout the procedure and waking up the patient.

Sedation and anesthesia are not one-size-fits-all options. Instead, there are grades of mild, moderate and deep. The criteria that define each level includes how conscious the patient is, whether they're breathing on their own or with assistance from a ventilator, and their cardiovascular activity. Severe complications with dental sedation and anesthesia are rare. Mild to moderate problems have a 20 percent occurrence rate.

How Dental Clinics Define Special Needs

Special needs patients are those that have mental, medical or psychological requirements that are necessary for a successful dental procedure. The dental clinic creates a specialized treatment plan to accommodate their patients.

How Special Needs Can Affect Dental Sedation

Dental clinics commonly use pre-medication, such as anti-anxiety medicine, to prepare your special needs client for their visit. Conditions such as unpredictable moods and movement, cognitive impairment, physical abnormalities, an inability to keep one's mouth open for long periods and a lack of cooperation are some reasons that dentists choose to use sedation for special needs patients. Certain conditions present a greater challenge to dentists. For example, Down Syndrome patients often have dental abnormalities and periodontal disease.

Precautions in Place for Special Needs Patients

Dentists and dental anesthesiologists have many measures available to protect your client's health. They work closely together to ensure that the patient is properly sedated at the appropriate level for the treatment plan.

The process starts long before your client steps through their door. As their caretaker, you play an important role in ensuring the success of a dental visit. A full medical history allows the dentist and anesthesiologist to look for any conditions or medication that could interfere with sedation.

You can help your client get optimal preoperative care and stay available for them to handle pre-anesthesia preparation or the post-anesthesia recovery. For example, the night before they go to the dentist, you confirm that they're not eating or drinking anything, as that could interfere with anesthesia.

Check with the dental clinic to see whether they have the proper equipment on-hand for emergencies that could occur during sedation or anesthesia. The ASA recommends that dental offices have resuscitation equipment, such as an emergency cart, airway management tool and a defibrillator available. The anesthesiologist should be present throughout the procedure to monitor your special needs client.

Proper dental care is vitally important to your special needs clients, as this health concern sometimes gets deprioritized due to the challenges involved in getting them the procedures that they need. The dental, anesthesiologist and yourself all work together to create a successful outcome for the special needs individual.

If you have any further questions about visiting the dentist with a special needs individual, don't hesitate to contact the Main Street Dental team.


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