What is Sedation Dentistry?
Patients who are uncomfortable with needles and drills, have sensitive teeth or gums, or have a strong gag reflex can be helped by sedation dentistry. After one pill or injection, many patients feel no anxiety or discomfort during treatment. They often have little-or-no memory of the visit.
Sedation Dentistry Benefits
Sedation allows people to feel comfortable about undergoing complex and lengthy procedures. When under sedation, it can seem to patients that lengthy procedures have lasted for only a few minutes. Another benefit of sedation dentistry is that extensive treatment can be done in only one or two appointments.
Although sedation produces a relaxed state, it does not have the same effect as anesthesia, which is used for most dental procedures. A patient will still require an injection of local anesthesia to eliminate the pain caused by the procedure. Sedation simply helps relieve the nervousness and anxiety that often accompany a visit to the dentist. A patient is usually sedated prior to getting anesthesia to reduce any anxiety about its injection.
Sedation Dentistry Options
We use several possible levels or types of sedation during dental treatment, including:
This is the most common form of light sedation. It is offered at most dental offices and can be used for a wide variety of procedures. Sometimes called laughing gas, nitrous oxide is generally administered prior to the local injection of anesthetic, which is especially helpful for patients who don’t like needles. Nitrous oxide provides a feeling of relaxation, making it easier to sit still during a long procedure. Patients remain awake and aware during treatment and can respond to instructions. N2O wears off very quickly, making it suitable for patients who will be driving themselves home after treatment.
There are quite a few different oral medications that can ease the discomfort of dental procedures. These include benzodiazepine drugs such as Valium and Xanax. These pills cause drowsiness, reduce pain and decrease anxiety. Our doctors are trained and understand:
- The right drug to administer based on medical history and desired level of sedation
- Proper dosage based on factors like body weight and length of the procedure
- When patients should take a specific medication so it “kicks in” at the right time
- What potentially harmful interactions to watch out for
As always, my team was right on time, they got me set up as comfortably as possible, and in spite of my generally anxious nature, their good humor and professionalism (and just the right dose of Novocain) made my time in the hot seat fly by. My husband and I wouldn’t go anywhere else. – Jean L.
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