General dentistry and extraction patient, 2022
It wasn't my fear of the actual dentist. It wasn't the fear of the needles or the sound of the drills and other machinery. My phobia really arose out of two things: I couldn't breathe through my nose due to a deviated septum and the unexplained sudden onset of a bad gag reflex.
It was my dentist who recommended intravenous conscious sedation and eventually, much against what I thought was my better judgement, I agreed to have it.
Approx 10 years plus later I am still using Sedation Solutions.
In all honesty I couldn't go to the dentist without the assistance of Andre Du Plessis, my go to sedationist.
The whole process is so calming and relaxing and, before you know it, the entire procedure is over and you are slowly coming round.
Prior to the procedure there are a few forms to fill out (medical, consent and payment).
On the day of the procedure you will need to be nil by mouth for a number of hours before hand.
Andre arrives at the surgery and in the dentist's office he will set up all his equipment. I suppose this few minutes alone with the dentist also gives them time to discuss the procedure, the patient, etc.
I am finally called in. As Andre has already set up, then prepping me for the procedure takes no time at all. I sit in the chair upright. Andre sprays a freezing solution on my hand so I don't even feel the IV needle going in. He will start to administer the drugs via the IV. What happens next is truly magical for anyone who has any anxiety, like I do, when going to the dentist. Any anxiety, nervousness, fear or dread you might feel just gradually melts away. My body starts to feel warm, I feel completely relaxed, I very quickly appear not to care about anything and it's a feeling you can't and don't want to fight. It is just a very pleasant, calming and relaxing feeling. I had a pre-med before surgery under general anaesthetic once and it's a very similar feeling to how I remembered that. You are being put in a very tranquil place. Within seconds or maybe minutes you fall asleep. At least you think you're sleeping. You are in fact conscious throughout the whole procedure but you don't know it. Hence the name "conscious sedation". I respond to the dentist's commands but DON'T recall one minute of the procedure or what they have done.
It is worth mentioning, as I am not afraid of needles, my dentist has been known to numb my mouth before Andre sedates me. As of late, however, my dentist has been more than happy to numb me once I have been sedated. This way there is absolutely ZERO discomfort to me whatsoever. Amazing.
My understanding is a combination of drugs are used to sedate. One of them includes a memory loss drug which is why you have NO recollection of the procedure at all. The cocktail of drugs are administered in tailored doses based on a number of factors such as your body weight, anxiety levels, length of procedure, type of procedure, etc.
Throughout the procedure the sedationist is in complete control of how much sedation you are given. He can titrate (I believe that's the word used) the levels he gives you. He can bring you in and out of consciousness. If you're reacting particularly well he might lower the level of sedation he gives you. If, like me, you occasionally remain (unknowingly!!!) anxious even while sedated he can increase and deepen my sedation to relax me even further.
It's probably worth noting that having a patient like me sedated makes life a lot easier for the dentist too as I won't be continuously interrupting the procedure, pushing his hand away, gagging, having to stop so I can take a breath, etc.
At my dentist's surgery having a crown made and fitted is a two-step process all done in one appointment. First I will be sedated while they do the x-rays and the "dreaded" impression. My dentist has a machine in the office that makes the crown while I am in the chair. In the 20 minutes or so it takes for the crown to be made I know Andre has brought me around to a level where I don't feel like I am sleeping but in a very comfortable state of semi consciousness as I don't need to be 100% under while the crown is being made. I'm still completely relaxed and might be able to converse a little but clearly drifting in and out of the very calming state I am in. When the crown is ready to be fitted Andre will increase the dose to put me back under again while the dentist completes the crown fitting procedure.
Once the procedure is over and the sedationist stops administering the drugs I very quickly come round and wake up.
It is seriously the most incredible feeling to know I can go to the dentist and have whichever procedure is required and NEVER GET ANXIOUS ABOUT IT AND BEST OF ALL DON'T REMEMBER A THING.
The most inconvenient thing about having sedation is having someone come to pick you up and escort you home following the procedure and the fact that you might feel a little drowsy for the next few hours. But sometimes not. A small price, I think, to pay for such an unbelievable service.
Treatments I have had under sedation include root canal, crowns, extractions, apicoectomy, implants, gum and bone grafts and at the same time my dentist has managed to take x-rays while I am under in addition to impressions which, for me, are one of the worse things to endure when I can't breathe through my nose and I have a bad gag reflex!
No longer do I need to be afraid of going to the dentist or suffer while going through any procedure I might require. Sedation, for me, was literally lifesaving and knowing that over the years I have developed a trusting relationship with my sedationist Andre (who also understands me as a person and my sedation requirements), it is almost a pleasure to go to the dentist knowing I will have no anxiety. Before using Sedation Solutions - in a million years I NEVER thought I would have said that.