What Is Sedation Dentistry?
Sedation is a great option for those with fear or anxiety about dental treatment and coming to the dentist. It is a form of medication used to sedate the patient and helps with relaxation at their appointment. Sedation dentistry is often referred to as “sleep dentistry”. A benefit of sedation is that patients often feel like the procedure only lasted a few minutes while it could have been 1-2 hours.
There are 4 different types of sedation used in dentistry.
Nitrous Oxide Sedation – is an inhaled sedation. A mild sedation often used with kids, it is also known as “laughing gas.” A mixture for the patient to inhale while conscious, nitrous oxide and oxygen are inhaled in and out of the nose through a nose piece. The patient is kept conscious throughout the procedure and retains adequate mental alertness to respond to questions and instructions from the dental team. The dentist controls the level of sedation given to the patient and once turned off, it wears off quickly. The patient should feel back to normal once the procedure is completed and the nitrous oxide sedation wears off. With this type of sedation, patients are able to drive afterward.
Oral Sedation – taken orally in the form of a pill or liquid, it is administered at your dental office prior to your treatment. It’s typically taken 1 hour before your appointment and can offer a moderate sedation level. The sedation may make you feel drowsy, and some patients become groggy and fall asleep.
I.V sedation (intravenous sedation) – also known as conscious sedation. Intravenous sedation works quickly as it is administered through a vein intravenously and the dentist can continuously adjust the level of sedation to a comfortable level. Even though the patient is still conscious, it does make them feel less aware. Afterward, the patient will have to arrange for a friend or family member to drive them home as they will need to relax for the rest of the day.
General Anesthesia – is a deep unconscious sedation. The patient is fully asleep and can’t be awakened until the anesthetic wears off or is reversed with medication. A breathing tube is placed in the patient’s throat and they are connected to a breathing machine until the procedure is completed.
Not all sedation is safe for everyone. Understanding the benefits and risks that are involved is important for you and your dentist to choose the best treatment option that is right for you. If you have any questions about dental treatment or the level of sedation recommended for you, talk to your dentist before your treatment.