The American Dental Association estimates that 22% of Americans avoid dental visits due to fear and anxiety. Putting off dental visits increases the risk of tooth loss, severe dental infections, or even oral cancer. Fortunately, dentists are now using dental sedation techniques which are aimed at helping patients obtain the necessary dental care without the characteristic pain and anxiety.
The following types of sedation are used in dentistry:
Inhaled Minimal Sedation
An excellent sedation method that is safe for young children and adults alike is nitrous oxide – also known as “laughing gas”. This gas is easily administered through a mask that covers your nose. All you need to do is breathe! The nitrous oxide helps relax you and puts you right at ease during most dental procedures. The best part is that it can wear off after just a few minutes of breathing regular oxygen.
A stronger alternative to laughing gas is oral sedation. Just like it sounds, you will be given a pill (usually Halcion which is similar to Valium). You simply take this medicine an hour before your procedure and allow it to relax you and cause some drowsiness. Many people love this option because it gives them a little more comfort than nitrous oxide, and allows them to have complicated dental procedures without fear. Many people actually fall asleep during their treatment with oral sedation!
IV Moderate Sedation
IV sedation is not typically recommended unless you have a high level of anxiety. This drug is administered through your vein, so it works quickly. An anesthesiologist will control the level of medicine given during your procedure to help you stay relaxed and safe.
Deep Sedation & General Anesthesia
We use a certified anesthesiologist to administer medications that will make you either almost unconscious or totally unconscious — deeply asleep — during the procedure. While you are under general anesthesia, you cannot easily be awakened until the effects of the anesthesia wear off or are reversed with medication. This kind of sedation requires a family member or friend to drive you home after your procedure.