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Dental Sedation

Is Sedation Dentistry the right thing for you?

Many people are fearful of having dental procedures. They worry about the possibility of any pain they might end up feeling and their vulnerability and potential discomfort. Sedation dentistry can definitely help patients with such fears and anxieties and it can make them feel relaxed during dental work.

What Is Sedation Dentistry?

With sedation, the dentist administers a drug before and throughout the dental procedure. Unlike general anesthesia which renders the patient completely unconscious, sedation will relax you, but won’t completely knock you out.

Types of sedation dentistry:

  • Nitrous oxide sedation: A gas that when administered relaxes the patient and makes them feel pleasant. It usually wears off within minutes of stopping the gas, so usually the patient can drive themselves home after the appointment.

  • Oral sedation: An oral sedative, usually Triazolam, is crushed and given under the tongue for fast absorption into the blood stream. It helps relax patients during dental procedures. Patients are fully awake but less anxious and usually feel a little sleepy until it wears off.

  • Intravenous sedation: Intravenous, or IV sedation can put you in varying stages of consciousness. It usually takes you into a stage of “twilight sleep.” You’re less aware of your surroundings, you might feel sleepy, and you usually will not remember much of the procedure once it’s over.

Some patients assume that general anesthesia or ” sleep dentistry “ will offer the best solution. However, it also comes with more potential risks than the other methods.

You might prefer a form of dental sedation over the other or think sleep dentistry is the best choice for you. To have a better idea about those procedures bring it up during your conversation with your dentist. Mention any medical issues and medications you take and any allergic reactions you’ve had in the past, so your dentist can make a safe, educated recommendation for you.

Additionally, you can discuss local anesthetics. These drugs numb your mouth during a dental procedure so you don’t experience pain. Dentists usually administer local anesthetics with a very small needle in several places along the gum line. If you don’t fear the dentist, local anesthetic might be the only thing you need.

How does it work?

The process depends on the type of sedation you and your dentist choose . If you choose oral sedation, for instance, your dentist will give you a crushed pill to place under your tongue. Once the medication starts to work you will feel drowsy, sleepy and relaxed. You will usually continue feeling drowsy for the rest of the day so a responsible adult will have to drive you home and supervise you for the rest of the day.

You don’t have to prepare much at all for nitrous oxide. Your dentist will supply it before, and during the procedure through a nasal mask. However, if you choose IV sedation, you might have to prepare in advance.

For instance, your dentist will ask you to fast for several hours before your appointment. 

Who needs it?

Patients who consider sedation dentistry often have different reasons, such as :

  • Phobia related to dental work
  • General anxiety disorders
  • Previous bad dental experience
  • Small mouth that becomes sore during dental work
  • Sensitive oral nerves and resistance to local anesthetic
  • A strong GAG reflex

If you recognize yourself in any of these categories, consider asking your dentist about sedation dentistry. 

Dental sedation can help patients get through any type of dental work (root canals, tooth extractions, dental implants, even dental cleanings).