What Are Dental Anesthesia And Sedation Options?


Modern dentistry has made incredible strides in recent decades, especially when it comes to dental anesthesia and sedation. There are several types of medications that are widely available to patients today needed to help them become more relaxed and more comfortable during a surgical procedure. While some medicines are tasked primarily with controlling pain, others are used to relax the patient. Some drugs are used to induce deep sleep during routine dental treatment. That said, the patient and the dentist would usually discuss some factors when deciding which type of anesthesia or sedation will be best. For example, the type of procedure that is being performed as well as the patient’s overall health and any history of allergies along with overall anxiety levels, are all considered when determining the best type of sedation or anesthesia.

Targeted Anesthesia For Limited Dental Treatments

About pediatric dentistry, some dental care providers will recommend that a child is given anesthesia or sedation so that the dental procedure may be completed safely. Whether it is pediatric dentistry or a dental procedure for an adult, some options may be considered. For example, local anesthesia is a particular type of anesthetic that is often used as a way to prevent pain in a specific target area of the patient’s mouth. In essence, local anesthesia blocks the nerves that the body uses to sense and transmit pain to the brain. When the mouth tissue and the nerve itself are numbed, the patient feels virtually no pain. When local anesthesia is used, your dental care provider will usually first apply a topical anesthetic that is intended to numb the area before local anesthesia being injected.

Topical Anesthetics

Also, topical anesthetics may be used as necessary to reduce the pain associated with mouth sores. Injectable anesthetics are commonly applied for procedures such as filling cavities or preparing a tooth that requires gum disease treatment or the placement of a crown. In addition to anesthesia and sedation used at the time of surgery, patients may need a pain reliever following dental treatment. This is where analgesics can be used to relieve pain. Patients may be prescribed either narcotic or nonnarcotic type of painkillers. Analgesics that are narcotic are considered opioids and target the central nervous system directly as a way to relieve pain.

Analgesia Is Usually Used For More Severe Pain

This type of analgesia is often used when more severe pain is involved. Conversely, nonnarcotic analgesics are frequently used to relieve the pain associated with toothaches and where a routine dental procedure has been performed. Nonnarcotic analgesics include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen as well as acetaminophen and over-the-counter aspirin. When taking this type of medication, it is crucial to properly store and dispose of any unused medicines as advised by your dental care provider. This is especially true if children are present in the household.

When Do I Need Sedatives?

In some cases where a patient has a particular type of dental procedure, sedatives may be used. Sedatives are primarily intended to induce a moderate level of sedation in the patient. They can be administered before or during a dental procedure. The administering of sedatives can include inhalation, as in the case of when nitrous oxide is used. Conversely, sedation can be applied orally by the patient taking a pill or intravenously by the patient receiving an injection. When more complex cases or in-depth oral surgery is performed, other types of drugs may be used as a way to induce deep sedation. Reducing consciousness is sometimes needed as a way to relieve pain and any excess anxiety. General anesthesia may be required in some instances involving oral surgery or other more complex treatments. General anesthesia typically results in temporary loss of consciousness so that no pain or anxiety is experienced.

How Safe Is Sedation?

Today’s modern dental care providers have access to a full range of pain and anxiety-related control techniques, as discussed here. With millions of patients treated each year safely, anesthesia and sedation play a significant role in overall dental care, health, and wellbeing. That said, patients should understand that taking any medication, including anesthesia or sedation, comes with some amount of risk. Talking with your dental care provider is the best way to know for sure any of the risks that are involved. The American Dental Association urges patients to always take an active and participatory role in their oral healthcare. This means talking with your dental care provider on some subjects, including anesthesia and sedation options.

Working closely with the oral surgeon is always the best way to make the most informed decision when it comes to sedation and anesthesia. Together with your dental professional, you can choose the most appropriate ways to make your dental treatment or oral surgery as comfortable and as safe as possible. Contact your dental care provider today to learn more about all of the ideas and concepts discussed here.