I keep reading these stories about patients who’ve died during sedation. It’s starting to freak me out. I’m  scheduled to get my wisdom teeth extracted and planned on using sedation to make this go easier. I’m an anxious patient even when I just go in for cleanings. Now, I’m a wreck and not sure what to do. Can I die from this?

Laura M. – Alabama

Laura,

Let me put your mind at ease. While there are risks with any procedure, it is extraordinarily rare for patients to die from dental sedation. And, most of the time when they do, it’s usually those patients who were put under anesthesia.

It’s more likely the type of sedation you’ll get is oral conscious sedation. This doesn’t lower your respiratory functions the way anesthesia does. You’ll be conscious, but completely relaxed. This allows the numbing medication to do its job giving you a pain-free experience.

If you’re an anxious patient, it will be important you get the medication. Dental anxiety tends to increase your metabolism causing you to burn through the numbing medication.

Talk to your dentist about your concerns. Ask about what type of monitoring they do. You can ask them to have oxygen on hand and monitor your heart, though many sedation dentists do this as a matter of course.

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