Easing Your Dental Experience with Sedation Dentistry
Maybe you had a bad experience with a dentist, or all of the poking and prodding around in your mouth with sharp dental tools sounds like modern-day torture, and you’ve ended up neglecting to see a dentist for years. Whatever the case may be, there are options available to help you book and keep those regular dental appointments that your mouth desperately needs to stay healthy. If even the word “dentist” pushes you into a fetal position, you may benefit from the calming technique of sedation dentistry where medication is used to ease the patient into a more relaxed state of mind. Even people with strong gag reflexes or sensitive teeth can benefit from this type of therapy. The strength of the sedation medication used will depend on your level of anxiety and/or pain tolerance. A few different dental sedation techniques are listed below.
- Nitrous Oxide. Also known as “laughing gas”, nitrous oxide is a mild pain reliever and allows the patient full consciousness and alertness for maintaining an adequate communication pathway. The benefit to this method is that the effects of the gas wear off quickly and the patient will be able to drive themselves home afterward in most cases.
- Oral anesthesia. The effects of an oral sedation method can range from mild to moderate depending on the type of drug used. After your primary care physician evaluates the drug as safe for your consumption, you will take the pill before your appointment, either the night before or an hour or two before the appointment time. Since this medication is on the stronger side, you will need someone to drive you to and from the appointment. The oral anesthesia can be used in conjunction with nitrous oxide to help the patient into a relaxed state of mind. While you may experience enough alertness to respond to questions, the medication can produce drowsiness and some patients will fall asleep or have little recollection of the details of the procedure. Blood pressure, pulse, and oxygen are all monitored during oral conscious sedation.
- IV anesthesia. Intra-venous anesthesia works more quickly than oral sedation, but is a little more invasive as it involves placement of an IV line. The patient may maintain consciousness and alertness, and the doctor will be able to adjust the administration levels throughout the procedure. The patient will still need someone to drive them home afterward, however.
- General anesthesia. This type of sedation will render the patient either partially or totally unconscious during the procedure. General anesthesia is helpful for patients who need extensive work done on the same day or are in need of a particularly painful procedure. The patient won’t be easily woken up until the effects wear off or reverse medication is administered, but vitals should be monitored the whole time. Obviously, the patient will need to be driven home afterward as well.
Dental anxiety can be overcome with the techniques listed above. The method used will depend on the individual patient, their concerns, and the severity of the procedure needed. If you think you would benefit from sedation dentistry, ask your dentist about available options before your next appointment.