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Rise in sedated dental patients

TERROR of the dentist's chair has caused a big increase in Scots patients demanding to be sedated.

Official NHS figures show a 20% rise in patients relying on heavy-duty drugs to obliterate the whine of drills and scrape of metal on enamel.

More than 50 Scots a day are opting for sedation by tablets, laughing gas and even IV drips.

Most of them are middle-aged patients, traumatised by their experiences of dentistry during the "dark ages" of the 1950s to 70s. Sedation means patients are unlikely to remember what happened in the dentist's chair.

But the side-effects can include light-headedness, headaches, dizziness, nausea or severe allergic reactions. The effects of sedation can also make it more difficult for dentists to carry out difficult procedures.

Official statistics released by NHS Scotland's Information Services Division show the number of procedures involving sedation was 10,991 in 2007. But in the first 11 months of last year the figure hit 13,766.

The cost has also increased by a third from £550,906 in 2007 to £769,733 last year.

Arshad Ali, clinical director at the Scottish Centre for Excellence in Dentistry in Glasgow, said he carried out around three sedation treatments a week.

"We are seeing increasing numbers of patients requesting to be sedated, but we prefer to do it as a last resort," he said.

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