Dental sedation is a great way to reduce anxiety and fear during dental procedures. It can help you stay calm and comfortable, and it can even result in fewer appointments. For those with severe dental anxiety, sedation can be the only way to get the dental care they need. Most dentists can administer minimal sedation, such as nitrous oxide or pills.
However, only a small percentage of dentists who have completed the Dental Accreditation Commission (CODA) deep sedation and general anesthesia program can use more complex techniques. These dentists are usually oral and maxillofacial surgeons and dental anesthesiologists. Some dentists use an anesthesiologist, who is specially trained to administer all levels of sedation and anesthesia to both children and adults. Oral sedation can range from minimal to moderate, depending on the dose your dentist gives you. Oral sedation is most commonly done with Halcion, which is a chemical related to Valium.
You will take one pill about an hour before the procedure begins and it will make you feel very sleepy. While you'll likely be awake and lightheaded during the procedure, some people relax enough to fall asleep. 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, your treatment procedure will be inaccurate once the sedative wears off. Laughing gas is another type of dental sedation that is commonly used. Before the procedure, the dentist will place a mask over the patient's nose and ask them to breathe regularly. Laughing gas acts quickly, calms the patient before the procedure begins, reduces anxiety and increases pain tolerance. The effect of inhaled sedation wears off very quickly, and it's generally safe for you to drive home after the procedure. Sedation is most appropriate for people who have real fear or anxiety that prevents them from going to the dentist.
If the thought of having your teeth cleaned makes you tense and you'd rather suffer a toothache than go to the dentist, dental sedation can literally save your smile. During your visit to the dentist, they will insert a fine needle into a vein in your hand or arm. Regardless of the type of sedation you and your dentist choose, you may also need some type of local anesthetic. Intravenous sedation is a great option if you're afraid of needles, the dentist, or dental procedures. You'll probably have to spend a significant amount of time recovering from sedation at the dentist's office before you're allowed to go home, and you'll definitely need someone else to drive. Dental sedation can also be useful for children who can't or don't want to sit still in the dentist's office.
Keep in mind that if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, or any heart or respiratory disease, you should share this information with your dentist beforehand. Oral health professionals require additional training to administer oral and intravenous sedation. Unlike other methods of dental sedation, you won't be able to wake up except through chemical intervention or waiting for the medication to wear off.