If anxiety or stress are stopping you from visiting the dentist, you’re not alone. Millions of patients around the world experience nerves and discomfort simply thinking about the dentist, however, you shouldn’t let fear stop you from achieving your picture-perfect smile. What’s the solution? Sedation dentistry. With multiple types of sedation to choose from, you can finally relax and feel confident as you take a seat in the dental chair. Sedation can be used for any type of dental work ranging from the simplest teeth cleaning to invasive procedures, all without the smells, sights, sensations, and sounds that can cause anxiety. Push fear aside because you deserve a radiant, healthy smile too. Is sedation dentistry the right choice for you? Keep reading this helpful guide to learn all about it.
Patient’s Guide to Sedation Dentistry
Many patients that need their wisdom teeth removed experience anxiety towards the procedure, however, modern medicine allows your worries to be a thing of the past. Wisdom teeth anesthesia is a type of sedation that can be administered to wisdom teeth extraction patients to eliminate the pain, or in some cases put you to sleep during the procedure. Depending on the level of anesthesia administered, you may experience a state of calmness and comfort, in which it’s possible that you may fall asleep on your own. In other cases, a higher level of anesthesia can be used in which you may not remember anything experienced in the procedure at all.
Understanding the different types of removal can help you to understand better the anesthesia you may need. For wisdom teeth that have already come in and are visible, the process will be quite simple. In this case, you may only need local anesthesia that will numb the area around the tooth. Although we would all love to have a simple case; most patients in need of a wisdom teeth removal procedure will require extraction of some gum and bone tissue to remove the tooth. In these cases where the tooth is not visible, patients will be administered a higher-level sedative to put you to sleep. This option may be the best for patients who need all four wisdom teeth removed, or have a very low pain tolerance.
Before beginning your procedure you and your dentist will need to decide on the best option in regards to the sedation that works for you. The sedation options can be based on of your level of anxiety towards the procedure, as well as the complexity of the procedures.
Types of Sedation Dentists Use
You have a choice of which sedation you wish to use along with the advice of your dentist. Paired with any of these sedatives, you’ll also typically need a local anesthetic which is a numbing medicine. The dentist will use this medicine in the specified location they’re working in to remove any pain associated with the procedure. If the only reason you fear the dentist is because of your low pain intolerance, a local anesthetic may be all you need.
Inhaled Minimal Sedation – You’ve most likely heard of the popular term “laughing gas” before. Laughing gas’ real name is called Nitrous Oxide. It’s administered through a mask that’s placed over your nose, allowing you to breathe in Nitrous Oxide combined with Oxygen. It helps the patient relax plus the dentist can control how much sedation you’re getting. The gas wears off fairly quickly so that you will potentially be able to drive yourself home after the procedure if needed. (It’s important to note that this is the only sedation type that allows you to drive yourself home afterward.)
Oral Sedation – This type of sedation ranges from minimal to moderate. If you’re looking for minimal sedation you simply take a pill that’s similar to the drug Valium. It’s taken an hour before the procedure to make you feel very drowsy, yet still awake. If you’re looking for more moderate sedation, a larger dose will be given to you. Oral sedation is the most popular type of dental sedation and the one that most patients prefer. A handful of patients become groggy enough from the pill(s) to fall asleep during the procedure but can still easily be woken up with a gentle shrug.
IV Moderate Sedation – Using an IV to pump the drug through your veins, the drug can move very quickly and effectively. Dentists are also able to continuously adjust the level of sedation you need whether you’d like more or less during the procedure. You will be half awake but very sleepy while using IV sedation.
Deep Sedation & General Anesthesia – General anesthesia will make you almost unconscious or fully unconscious. This means that you will be in a deep, deep sleep during the procedure. You can’t be easily woken up until the anesthesia effects wear off or a reverse medication is given. This type of sedation isn’t as common since it comes with more potential side effects and most dentists aren’t allowed to administer it.
For the simple procedures, a local anesthesia is most likely the only sedation that will be needed. Local anesthesia is a numbing medication that blocks the pain transmission from the nerve to the central nervous system. This sedation can last anywhere from thirty minutes to four hours, depending on the strength of the sedation as well as the dosage. The most commonly used local anesthesia used in the dental field is called Lidocaine.
For patients who are feeling very anxious about their dental procedure, Nitrous oxide, also known as “laughing gas” is a mixture of nitrogen and oxygen that is inhaled through a nose mask. This sedation can be used on patients of all ages and has a calming, relaxing, or even euphoric effect. Patients receiving nitrous oxide will be awake and conscious during the procedure and will have full control of, though, speech, and touch. Because this sedation is in inhalant form, its effect wears off quite quickly, allowing for patients to be able to drive following their procedures.
For higher complexity procedures, a conscious sedation is a more sustainable option. This type of sedation involves taking a medication that causes drowsiness and in some cases, may cause the patient to fall asleep on their own, again depending on the dosage and strength. In any case, driving home after a procedure that uses any anesthesia is not a good idea and patients who will be administered this medication should plan transportation to and from the dental office.
In other cases, your dentist may recommend intravenous sedation, which involves medication administered through a vein. This involves a combination of local anesthesia, and although the patient will be conscious, they may not remember much of the procedure after the sedative is administered. In any case, patients who undergo a procedure that requires the use of intravenous sedation should plan for means of transportation following the procedure as the after effects of the sedation include grogginess.
Lastly, for highly complex procedures such as root canals, your dentist may administer general anesthesia. When being “put under,” the patients will be in an unconscious state and will have no recollection of the procedure after the effects of the anesthesia begin working. Following the procedure, the sedation can take up to a few hours to wear off preventing patients from driving after their procedures. Plans should be made for transportation to and from the dental office to ensure the patient’s safety.
For patients who have delayed procedures such as root canals and wisdom teeth removal, sedation may be able to help you calm down and relieve your anxiety towards the procedure.
Patients Who Make Great Candidates
Sedation dentistry can help any patient who experiences one or more of the following:
- Dental anxiety, stress, or fear
- Extremely sensitive teeth
- Overactive gag reflex
- Difficult time sitting through dental procedures
- Wanting to accomplish several procedures in one sitting
- Requires complex or lengthy dental work
Children are also great candidates for sedation dentistry if they refuse to cooperate or are beyond terrified of the dentist. Nitrous Oxide is safe for kids to take and any dentist can administer it. Some pediatric dentists are trained to give kids oral sedations, which are completely safe when given the right dosage based on a child’s weight and height. Ask your dentist for the best plan of action if you are having difficulty getting your child to cooperate.
Is Sedation Dentistry Safe?
There is always a slight level of risk involved whenever you’re dealing with sedation. However, when given by professionally trained dentists, it’s typically very safe if you’re a healthy individual. For those individuals who are obese or have sleep apnea, they should consult with their primary care doctor first since they’re way more likely to develop complications from anesthesia.
The best way to ensure you’re being safe is to be a smart patient:
- Always make sure that your dentist is qualified and trained to administer the type of sedation you are receiving.
- Before the procedure begins you and your dentist should review all of your medical histories and know which medications you’re currently taking.
- Ask as many questions as you want. (Find out how many times your dentist has given sedation, the more the better! Ask what dose you’ll be getting and whether it’s within FDA limits.)
- Make sure you get a form that outlines the risks of the sedation/procedure. Read it thoroughly and carefully.
- Ensure the dentist has oxygen on hand to reverse the effects of sedation if needed. Your dentist should also closely monitor vital signs during the entire procedure.
- Dentists should always be following all of the American Dental Association guidelines.
Your Beautiful New Smile Awaits You
Don’t keep putting off the dentist year after year. When you ignore certain issues such as loose, painful, and broken teeth, cavities, or other problems you’re seriously putting your oral health at risk. The problems could get worse as time goes on and that means even more extensive dental work (and higher costs) to tackle in your future.
If fear is keeping you out of the dental chair, ask Omega Dental Specialists about sedation dentistry today to get you well on your way to a more beautiful, healthier smile.