Sedation dentistry helps you feel calm, relaxed, and at ease during dental procedures. It’s a moderate level of sedation, so technically you’re still awake but feeling very carefree. It is sometimes called conscious sedation dentistry because it creates a state of short-term amnesia (forgetting) in which you experience numbness to pain without the loss of consciousness.
Who Needs Sedation Dentistry?
People of all ages can opt for sedation dentistry, including children. Dentists recommend this option for those who have:
- Fear of dental visit
- Teeth anxiety
- Fear of needles
- An overly sensitive gag reflex
- Extreme tooth sensitivity
- Difficulty controlling movements
- Decreased sensitivity to local anesthesia
- Claustrophobic feeling in the dental chair
- Special needs (including physical, cognitive or behavioral)
Types of Sedation Used In Dentistry
There are different levels of dental sedation depending on your unique requirements. Factors include your level of anxiety, the duration of your procedure, your medical history, and your personal preferences. The most common types of dental sedation are nitrous oxide, conscious oral sedation, and intravenous (IV) sedation.
- Nitrous Oxide: Nitrous oxide is commonly referred to as “laughing gas”. The patient inhales nitrous oxide through a mask or nosepiece and the calming effects begin within three to five minutes. Your dentist monitors the amount of sedation you receive and adjusts doses accordingly throughout the procedure. After completing the treatment, your dentist administers pure oxygen to remove nitrous oxide from your system.
- Conscious Oral Sedation: With conscious oral sedation, your dentist gives you sedative medication (usually in pill form) about an hour before the procedure begins. Oral sedation leaves you quite sleepy and you may even fall asleep. But you can always contact your dentist if needed, and you’ll wake up with a nudge. Because oral sedation temporarily affects your memory and motor skills, you will need a friend or family member to drive you home after the procedure.
- Intravenous (IV) Sedation: IV sedation dentistry is the deepest form of conscious sedation available in a dental practice. The dentist administers sedative medications directly into your bloodstream intravenously. During the procedure, your dentist will monitor your oxygen levels, blood pressure, and heart rate. They can adjust your dose at any time and can use reversal medications if needed. Most people who receive intravenous sedation dental treatment fall asleep with little or no memory of their treatment when they wake up. This option is best for people with severe dental anxiety or those undergoing lengthy procedures.