Types of Patient: Special Needs

The special needs population is very diverse.  The reasons for sedation and anesthesia are just as varied.  How they are pre-medicated (to get into the dental chair and have an intravenous started), induced (put to sleep), maintained (stay asleep) and emerge (wake up) depends on their needs and dental treatment requirements.

The special needs patient can be very challenging to treat in the general dental office environment.  How we treat this patient population depends on their physical (wheelchair bound, contractures, uncontrolled movements, etc.) and mental ability to cope with entering the dental office or treatment room, and allowing an intravenous to be started.

Many special needs patients are pre-medicated to facilitate their arrival for treatment.  Pre-medication usually consists of taking a pill form of an antianxiety medication prior to treatment.  The uncooperative or violent special needs patient may also receive an injection in the shoulder or a mask to help with intravenous access.