Occasionally a patient may become anxious and cannot relax during an office visit. As many as 30% of adults in America are afraid of needles. Sedation dentistry offers these dental patients a safe and effective alternative through sedation dentistry.
There are three forms of conscious sedation that allow a patient to relax and/or become sleepy. Forms of conscious sedation may involve nitrous oxide analgesia, taking an oral medication or receiving medication intravenously.
One of the benefits of sedation dentistry is that it eliminates movement during a periodontal or dental implant procedure. Sedation dentistry relaxes the patient and allows those who might avoid a dental visit a safe and anxiety-free alternative. If you are hesitant about scheduling your next visit, consider sedation dentistry. Ask us for more information, and we will be sure to put your mind at ease.
Nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, is most often used for patients who are mildly or moderately anxious or nervous. It eases their fears so that they can relax and receive treatment comfortably and safely. Nitrous oxide is administered by placing a small mask over the patient's nose. As the gas begins to work, the patient becomes calm, but is still awake and can communicate. When the gas is turned off, the effects of sedation wear off almost immediately.
Injection or intravenous (into a vein) methods require more experience to be administered and monitored properly. Injections and intravenous medications should be used only by dentists with extensive training in these techniques.
General anesthesia puts a patient into a deep sleep. He or she is unable to feel pain or to move around. General anesthesia may be recommended if the patient:
- Can't relax or calm down enough for treatment to be performed safely, even with conscious sedation and other behavior management techniques
- Needs oral surgery or other dental treatment that would be difficult for the patient to tolerate while awake
- Needs a lot of dental work that can best be done in one long appointment rather than many shorter visits
- Has a medical, physical or emotional disability that limits his or her ability to understand directions and be treated safely as an outpatient
Some general dentists have received training and a certification in general anesthesia, while others contract with an anesthesiologist. These professionals are trained to deliver the medications and monitor patients during the procedure and handle any complications that may occur.
Patients who are more anxious may need an oral medication that is stronger than nitrous oxide. With oral sedation, the patient may be sleepy but can be aroused if necessary and can respond to simple commands.
Minor side effects such as nausea or vomiting can occur with some medications. Before a visit in which a patient is to receive oral sedation, he/she should receive instructions about eating and drinking, what to expect and what to watch for after treatment. You may need assistance to get home after sedation. Patients may need to stay for a short observation after dental treatment has been completed.
What is the medication?:
One of many safe and widely-used sleeping pills will be used. In certain cases, nitrous oxide gas may also be used as an additional medication.
Can I drive home?:
No. The effects last many hours and driving is not safe. We will call your ride at the end of your appointment to bring you home. You should not plan to do anything but sleep for the rest of the day. By the next morning you will feel normal, rested and ready to get on with your life.
Will you use local anesthetic (Novocain)?:
Always. Oral sedation is not general anesthesia. Treatment is no different than if you were not sedated. The difference is that you will be much more relaxed, memory of the procedure will be minimal and the time will seem to fly by.
Will I be asleep?:
Most people do doze during their appointment, but our primary goal is relaxation and comfort with safety.
How safe is it?:
Properly administered oral sedation is the safest form of sedation. We use sophisticated monitoring equipment during all procedures and you are always attended by a trained doctor or staff member.
Is it expensive?:
No. There is a sedation fee to cover the expense of the drugs and the monitoring, but we don't try to profit from sedation. Our profit (and yours) is in your comfort and in the quality of your care.
Would I be unusual in wanting sedation?:
Not at all. Oral sedation in our office is very popular for surgery, for long appointments and for complicated procedures as well as for basic dental anxiety.