Friday, December 26, 2008
Medical Reports: Dental Sedate Debate
If you're one of those people who hates going to the dentist, you're not alone, but what if you could relax and forget about your experiences in the dentist's chair? A new kind of sedation makes that possible, but as Seven's Lynn Martinez tells us in tonight's Healthcast, some dentists say it's risky business.
WSVN -- Today, Dustin Fuller is calm while he waits to see his dentist. It wasn't always this way.
Dustin Fuller: "I was really deathly afraid of the dentist."
After avoiding the dentist for 30 years, Dustin was forced to come when he broke a tooth.
Dustin Fuller: "Extreme fear, even just sitting there filling out paperwork the first time I forgot my address."
But he easily handled his root canal with conscious oral sedation, a new trend in dentistry.
Dr. Anna Belous: "They remember bits and pieces, but they really don't remember details."
Dentist Anna Belous offers oral sedation to fearful patients. They get Valium the night before and another sedative pill the day of the procedure.
Dr. Lee Pollan: "It's very well-managed. It's very safe."
Oral surgeon Lee Pollan says the trend is disturbing, and many dentists are not trained to deal with the complications.
Dr. Lee Pollan: "These drugs can depress respiration and depress cardiovascular activity."
If patients aren't sedated enough, dentists may give a second dose. It's not risk-free. Patients have died.
Dr. Lee Pollan: "It's very easy for a patient to slip from moderate to deep by adding additional medications, and before you know it you have a patient that's over-sedated and in trouble."
Guidelines suggest dentists undergo a minimum of 24 hours of training in sedating patients and 10 clinical experiences administering the medications.
Dr. Belous says, with the right training, it's safe, and she's happy to offer it.
Dr. Anna Belous: "I think more people are aware of it. More people are eager to do this."
It costs up to $500, but patients like Dustin wouldn't be here without it.
Dustin Fuller: "To sit in a dentist chair for five hours with a root canal and not realize you were there more than an hour, that's worth easily that much, if not more."
Lynn Martinez: "Oral sedation has been used for everything from routine cleanings and fillings to root canals, but some experts believe intravenous sedation is safer and more precise, since it's easier to overdose when using pills."