Sedation is often called “sleep,” “relaxation,” or “anxiety-free” dentistry. It is a tool used by practitioners around the world to provide comfortable dental care to their patients. There are a variety of medications used in sedation dentistry that can be adjusted to your specific needs. At Hearthside Dentistry, we would like to provide you with information about the types of sedation we offer, and what you can expect to experience.
Oral sedation is designed to make you feel relaxed, comfortable and safe during your dental experience. It accomplishes this task by making you less aware of your surroundings and far less sensitive to pain or other stimulation. These sedatives can be administered in a variety of ways, including orally, via pills or sublingually, which is medication applied under the tongue.
Dr. McMillon will consult with you prior to your procedure. During this consultation, she will assess your comfort levels, emotional needs and a variety of other factors to determine the appropriate level of sedation for you.
Depending on your needs, the level of sedation can range from mild to moderate all the way to general anesthesia where you are fully asleep. The vast majority of dental procedures are performed under mild or moderate sedation. General anesthesia is relatively uncommon, and it must be performed at a hospital.
During sedation, you should feel relaxed and calm. Even though you will still be awake, you should feel comfortable, and you will be able to respond to questions and stimulation. As many as 20% of all patients fear dental procedures, so sedation is a useful tool to help alleviate those fears. Sedation is also used when patients require several procedures at once. It’s a convenient way to provide comfort and quality care while avoiding multiple visits to the dentist.
The most common medications used in sedation dentistry are benzodiazepines. Some of the most common benzodiazepines include triazolam, lorazepam and diazepam. Each of these medications has a different level of sedation, and they provide faster or slower onset times. The National Center for Biotechnology Information provides some great information about each of these drugs.
Nitrous oxide (N2O) is another option for anxious patients. Dr. McMillon will provide you nitrous oxide through a nasal cannula or nasal hood. Based on the amount of gas given, and the length of time it is administered, you can experience one of three sedation levels:
- A vibrating or tingling sensation in your limbs.
- Warm, comfortable feelings.
- Euphoric, floating sensations and a sense of well-being.
Nitrous oxide also comes with many benefits. It is very fast acting, reaching the brain in as little as 20 seconds and delivering pain relief in two to three minutes. Your doctor will also be able to increase or decrease the level of your sedation throughout the procedure as necessary. Nitrous oxide can also help to minimize the gag reflex. It is a safe drug that will not harm the brain, heart, lungs, kidney or liver. It has few side effects, and you will not experience a “hangover” effect since the gas will eliminate itself from your body in three to five minutes. However, the use of nitrous oxide is not recommended for some people. If you suffer from emphysema or other chest-related conditions, or if you are in the first trimester of pregnancy, your dentist will not be able to use nitrous oxide. It is also contra-indicated if you are suffering from a cold, since the gas must be inhaled through the nose. If you want to learn more about nitrous oxide, Dental Fear Central has provided a useful resource here.
If would like to schedule an appointment, or if you have any questions or concerns about an upcoming procedure, please free to contact us via phone or email. You can also learn more about the services and options we provide by visiting our services page.