November 26, 2008

Dental patients can lose consciousness

Patients in a dentist's chair can experience dizziness, lightheadedness, palpitations, nausea, sweating and hyperventilation, a paper by a U.S. dentist said.

Lead author Rubia Kapusta said both dentists and patients should be aware of the signs and be prepared for a condition known as vasovagal syncope, which is characterized by a loss of consciousness and muscle tone, which typically are preceded by non-specific symptoms that last anywhere from a few seconds to a minute.

Any patient who experiences a syncope reaction may have an underlying cause that can predispose him or her to a life-threatening situation, Kapusta said in a statement.

It is considered the most common clinical problem that occurs among patients of all ages, affecting 3.5 percent of the general population.

Emotional stress, anxiety, pain, fatigue and being in a hot and crowded environment can lead to vasovagal syncope, Kapusta said.

If the signs and symptoms of vasovagal syncope do occur, the dental procedure will be immediately stopped and treatment provided as soon as possible, the study said.

The study was published in the journal General Dentistry.