In the world of dentistry, sedation dentistry is a popular option for those who are afraid of the dentist or need to undergo multiple procedures. Sedation dentistry uses medications to help patients relax during dental procedures, and it can be administered in various ways. From general anesthesia to nitrous oxide, intravenous sedation, and oral sedation, there are many options available to make your dental experience more comfortable. General anesthesia is the most extreme form of sedation dentistry and is used when a patient needs to be completely unconscious during the procedure.
To administer general anesthesia, your dentist must have advanced and specialized training. In most cases, an anesthesiologist provides this type of anesthesia. Nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, is a mild form of sedation that is often used for children who are afraid to go to the dentist or refuse to cooperate during the visit. It's safe for children and almost any dentist can administer it.
Oral sedation is another option for children who need to be sedated during their dental visit. A smaller percentage of pediatric dentists are trained to administer oral sedation to children. Oral sedation can be safe when kept within the recommended dose for the child's age and weight. Oral sedation can make you feel sleepy enough to fall asleep, but it's easy to wake up if needed.
Intravenous (IV) sedation refers to the administration of an anti-anxiety medication through the blood during dental treatment. Intravenous sedation dentistry is sometimes referred to as “twilight” or “dream” dentistry. However, instead of making you sleep, the sedative helps you relax and feel at peace. While you'll be able to answer the dentist's questions, you won't remember much of what happened once the sedative wears off. If you have a strong gag reflex, sedation can help ensure that you feel comfortable while being treated by your dentist.
It can take a few hours for the effects of oral sedation to wear off, so it's important to have a family member or friend drive you back and forth from the office. Intravenous sedation is a great option if you're afraid of needles, the dentist, or dental procedures. In addition, an anesthesiologist must monitor all vital signs during general anesthesia, such as blood pressure, heart rate and pulse. With conscious IV sedation, no medical assistance is needed to maintain proper breathing and heart function. You can also opt for IV sedation if you experience dental anxiety and need to undergo several dental procedures. If you are interested in sedation dentistry, look for a dentist who has the appropriate training and years of experience performing sedation procedures.
A certified intravenous dentist licensed to administer intravenous sedation has received additional specialized training and has been legally certified by the state's Board of Dental Examiners to administer medications that alter the patient's knowledge in order to provide comfortable and painless treatment. Regardless of the type of sedation you receive, you will usually also need a local anesthetic (a numbing medication where the dentist is working in the mouth) to relieve pain if the procedure causes you any discomfort. Getting an appointment with the dentist can sometimes make some people feel uncomfortable, and considering dental sedation can help you feel more relaxed. Many patients find that sedation helps them have a more positive experience at the dentist, even if they don't suffer from dental anxiety. Some patients may also want to receive a sedative if multiple cavities are being filled or if they are undergoing a lengthy procedure, such as a deep gum cleaning.
Some dentists use an anesthesiologist who is specially trained to administer all levels of sedation and anesthesia to both children and adults.