If you have anxiety about going to the dentist or undergoing work on your teeth, dental sedation can help. Dental anxiety can keep you from receiving regular dental care, and when you go to the dentist, it limits the amount of dental work you can endure in a single sitting. Dental sedation helps to ensure you feel relaxed, comfortable, and anxiety-free during your appointment. Read below to learn everything you need to know about the benefits of dental sedation and what to expect when you’re in the dentist’s chair.
Sedation dentistry makes a world of difference for individuals who don’t like going to the dentist or who have had negative dental experiences. Dental sedation helps patients remain calm, happy, and tranquil-minded amidst dental anxieties. Dental professionals must be trained and licensed to provide dental sedation services.
Patients of any age can benefit from dental sedation, including children and seniors. Your dentist might recommend sedation for patients in the following circumstances:
Dental sedation is not a one-size-fits-all solution. The necessary sedation level depends on the patient’s preference, procedure, and health history. The most common forms of dental sedation include IV (twilight) sedation, oral conscious sedation, and nitrous oxide (laughing gas):
The lowest level of dental sedation is nitrous oxide or “laughing gas.” Nitrous oxide is an inhaled medication your dentist administers through a mask. During your procedure, your dentist controls the dosage of nitrous oxide you receive to ensure you remain calm and relaxed. When your procedure is complete, your dentist will have you inhale pure oxygen to flush the nitrous oxide out of your system. Laughing gas leaves your system quickly, and unlike other forms of dental sedation, you can drive yourself home following your appointment.
Oral conscious sedation is a moderate form of dental sedation in which your dentist administers an oral sedative an hour before the procedure. The medication usually comes in pill form, but some dentists use a liquid oral sedative for children.
The effects of oral conscious sedation make patients feel very tired, and you are encouraged to fall asleep. If your dentist needs to communicate with you during your procedure, a gentle nudge will wake you enough to be compliant. The medication affects your short-term memory and slows your motor functions, so you will be required to have a guardian or chaperone drive you home following your procedure.
Intravenous (IV) sedation, also called “twilight” sedation, is the deepest form of dental sedation. The medication is administered directly into your bloodstream through an intravenous line. Your dentist will monitor your vitals during the procedure and adjust the dosage as necessary. IV sedation or “twilight” sedation, causes short-term memory loss and numbs the body’s pain response. While under the effects, patients remain conscious but in a fog-like state, during which they are carefree. Patients comply with the dentist’s instructions but will not remember the experience afterward.
While under the effects of IV sedation, patients feel carefree, tranquil, and often fall asleep. Patients remain conscious while under IV sedation, like oral conscious sedation. IV sedation is ideal for patients undergoing a lengthy procedure and those with severe dental anxiety.
Unlike dental sedation, general anesthesia is a form of unconscious sedation, so an anesthesiologist must constantly monitor and regulate patients’ vitals. General anesthesia must be administered in a hospital setting and is not an in-office form of dental sedation. Your dentist might recommend general anesthesia in an ambulatory surgical center or hospital in special cases.
Nitrous oxide only lasts in your system as long as your dentist is administering the medication. Once your dentist administers a pure oxygen flush, the nitrous oxide dissipates immediately, and you can drive yourself home.
In general, dental sedation lasts between two to eight hours. IV and oral conscious sedation remain in your system for several hours following your procedure. If you are under IV or oral conscious sedation, unlike nitrous oxide, you must have a chaperone drive you home after your procedure.
Dental sedation does not render patients unconscious. You will be conscious during your procedure but very relaxed. You might even fall asleep if you are under oral conscious or IV sedation. Though you remain conscious, the sedative medication often causes memory loss, so you won’t remember anything of while you are sedated.
You will not feel any pain while sedated. Along with dental sedation, your dentist will administer local anesthesia to numb the treatment area. You will not experience any physical discomfort or pain during your procedure. Want to learn more about sedation dentistry? Call our office to schedule a consultation and determine the right level of dental sedation for you.
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