What is Sedation Dentistry?
Some patients might become anxious and be unable to relax, especially ahead of a dental procedure. For these patients, sedation might be needed. Up to 20% of adults in the U.S. are fearful about going to the dentist. In fact, some avoid necessary dental work as a result. Fortunately, sedation dentistry can alleviate dental anxiety and help patients receive the treatment they deserve. In our office, we provide a variety of sedation options for those who desire a more calming visit.
At our practice, we offer several forms of sedation to relax patients, including laughing gas, oral medication, or intravenous (IV) medication. We will determine the best option before your procedure to make you comfortable throughout treatment.
We offer sedation at our practice since it prevents a patient from moving during a treatment, which makes a procedure safer and quicker. Since sedation relaxes patients, they are more inclined to visit the dentist regularly and not avoid procedures. If you are anxious about making an appointment, ask us about sedation dentistry. We are more than happy to answer your questions to put you at ease.
Nitrous Oxide (Laughing Gas)
Laughing gas – or nitrous oxide – is an inhalant that calms patients who are experiencing mild or moderate anxiety. It relaxes them so they can undergo treatment in a safer, more effective manner. Laughing gas is a top choice since it begins to work immediately and is safe for most patients of all ages, including children.
A small hood is placed over the patient’s nose, and he or she will breathe in the gas. Once the gas takes effect, the patient will become relaxed but will still be alert and able to communicate. As soon as the gas is turned off, all effects of the gas will cease.
After nitrous oxide, you’ll need to receive pure oxygen for about five minutes. The oxygen helps to prevent headaches and to remove the remainder of the gas from your lungs.
Side effects are mild and can include headaches, vomiting, or nausea. To minimize any unpleasant effects, it is recommended that patients eat a light meal before the procedure. You should also avoid eating a large meal for about three hours after your treatment.
Patients with moderate dental anxiety may benefit from oral medication. With oral sedation, your dentist prescribes a pill, which you typically take about an hour before your procedure. By taking the medication ahead of time, you are more relaxed and comfortable as soon as you enter the office. These types of oral sedatives are generally safe for the majority of patients. Your dentist will review your health history with you in detail before prescribing any medication.
With oral sedation, patients typically feel sleepy and carefree. However, the patient can be awakened fairly easily and will be able to respond to simple commands given by the medical professional. Side effects like vomiting or nausea are possible, but are rare.
Your dentist will provide specific instructions on how to take the medication before arriving at the office. Your dental team will also explain what and when to eat and drink and what you can expect from the medication. You also need to bring somebody with you to drive you home after your visit.
Intravenous (IV) sedation is also referred to as twilight sleep. With this type of sedation, an IV is placed into the vein to deliver the medication directly to the bloodstream. The amount of anesthesia you receive can be adjusted to suit your needs and the type of treatment you receive.
As soon as the IV is inserted, the medication begins to work immediately and lasts through your entire visit. You won’t be fully asleep, but your awareness is minimized. The dentist will provide you with detailed instructions on what to do before and after your procedure. Since you will feel groggy after treatment, you’ll need to be accompanied by a friend or family member who can drive you home after your appointment.