The use of sedation in dentistry has revolutionized the way patients view dental visits. Patients who once were afraid or anxious about even the most routine dental procedures now visit the dentist with confidence. Sedation is typically administered to healthy individuals who need help relaxing or managing treatment anxiety. Reasons for needing sedation may include lengthy procedure times, dental phobias, or fear caused by negative experiences in the past.
Did you know…
that here are three different types of sedation dentistry? You can opt for sedation administered in one of the following ways:
Oral Sedation – A pharmacological agent administered prior to treatment to alleviate anxiety and help patients relax.
Inhalation Sedation – Also known as laughing gas, nitrous oxide offers a euphoric feeling that makes dental treatments more pleasant.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I choose sedation dentistry?
Only you and your dentist can determine if sedation is right for you. Because sedation covers a spectrum of treatments, you will need to consult with your dentist to discuss whether light, moderate or deep sedation best meets your needs. Your eligibility for sedation will depend on your age, health, and any other medications you may be taking.
What should I expect if I am sedated for my dental procedure?
That depends on the type of sedation you undergo. Oral sedation is relatively simple and involves taking a prescribed medication about an hour prior to your procedure. You’ll feel more relaxed, yet completely aware of your surroundings during treatment. If you choose nitrous oxide, you’ll be instructed to inhale the gas at the beginning of your appointment. Additional nitrous can be administered throughout your procedure to keep you in a state of euphoria. At the conclusion of your treatment, you’ll be given oxygen to help ‘snap’ you out of your sedated state.
Are there any precautions I need to take after being sedated?
Depending on the type of sedation you undergo, a licensed driver may need to drive you home from your dental appointment.
Anesthesia in Dentistry
Anesthesia is a means of pain and anxiety management used in a broad range of health procedures, including dentistry. Dental anesthesia encompasses a spectrum of treatments, each of which offers different benefits to the patient. There are several types of anesthesia, including:
- Local anesthetics – Small injections designed to numb the nerves in the gums and inside the teeth. Patients are awake and fully aware of their surroundings, but they feel little or no pain.
- Sedation – Sedation can be used in combination with local anesthetics to help calm patients before and during office treatments. Sedation may be in the form of a pre-visit anti-anxiety medication or nitrous oxide administered in the office.
- General anesthesia – This type of anesthesia causes patients to fall into a deep sleep. General anesthesia is reserved for highly invasive or long dental procedures.
Did you know…
that Lidocaine – the primary local anesthetic used in U.S. dentistry – has been used for dental pain management since the 1950’s? But the history of general anesthesia can be traced all the way back to the 1840’s, when the first person was “put to sleep” for a health procedure. It was Dr. William T. G. Morton – a dentist – who first attempted to use a general anesthetic to extract a tooth from a patient who was in a great deal of pain. The procedure was highly successful and began a revolution in medical and dental anesthesia.
Frequently Asked Questions
What type of anesthesia will I need for my dental procedure?
Dentists usually assess the type of anesthesia necessary based on the nature of the procedure and anxiety level of the patient. If you are visiting the dentist for a routine filling or a crown, you’ll probably only require a local anesthetic. If you experience moderate to severe anxiety prior to and during your dental appointment, you may be prescribed a sedative to take in combination with a local anesthetic. If, however, your procedure is more invasive, such as an impacted wisdom tooth extraction, you may be placed under general anesthesia.
What should I expect under anesthesia?
A local anesthetic will cause your mouth, teeth, and gums to become numb for several hours. You may feel heat, cold or pressure, but you will not feel pain. A sedative, such as nitrous oxide, will cause you to feel groggy, relaxed or even euphoric, but these feelings wear off almost immediately at the end of your procedure when the dentist administers oxygen. If you are under general anesthesia, you will have no memory of your procedure and will not be conscious for any of it.
Are there any special instructions I need to follow before or after being anesthetized?
If you will be put under general anesthesia, you will need to avoid eating and drinking the night before and the morning of your procedure. You may also need to submit to some screenings to ensure you are healthy enough for general anesthesia. After you awake, you will not be allowed to drive yourself home, so be sure to bring a responsible driver with you to your appointment.