Many individuals are terrified of going to the dentist. They are nervous and concerned about how much pain they may experience. Others experience a lack of control sitting in the dental chair. If you’re having this sort of anxiety or stress, sedation dentistry might be the perfect option for you. How can you be sure it’s the best option for you?
What is sedation dentistry?
It’s the use of sedatives, provided by the dentist prior to or during your treatment. This can help you to feel comfortable and relaxed during your visit to the dentist. Dentists use a few different types of sedation depending on your needs and their certifications for administering. They include nitrous oxide, conscious oral sedation, and IV sedation.
Nitrous oxide is a gas you inhale, usually through a mask. It produces feelings of euphoria and relaxation. Some people report feeling as if they are floating. It is often also referred to as “laughing gas”. Nitrous oxide doesn’t have a lasting effect as it wears off quickly when you stop inhaling it.
Oral sedation may be light or moderate. You swallow a pill for light sedation. The typical medicine administered is Halcion or Diazepam (Valium), and is generally taken about an hour before the operation. You will become drowsy after you take the pill, but you will be awake.
A higher dosage may be used to provide a more moderate form of sedation. People may fall asleep during moderate oral sedation because it makes them groggy. They’re typically easy to rouse with a little shake though. You will need a ride home from your dental appointment.
There are different types of medications used for IV sedation, some of which can cause you to go into a fairly deep sleep. You will not likely remember much or any of your treatment with this sort of sedation.
This may seem like the preferred method for those with anxiety or stress related to dental care. However, there are some drawbacks and risks associated with IV sedation. You will want to discuss this with your dentist prior to undergoing treatment in this way. You will want someone to go with you to this sort of procedure. They will need to drive you home as well.
Who typically needs sedation dentistry?
Sedation is a common way to treat a wide variety of patients of all ages. Some of the reasons patients or their guardians choose sedation dentistry include:
- Dental phobias
- Traumatic experiences from past dental care
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Low pain tolerance
- Age/maturity concerns, particularly with children and common with pediatric dentistry
- Developmental disorders that complicate treatment/procedures
Is sedation dentistry right for me?
It is best to discuss your needs and concerns with your dentist. The level of sedation you may need will probably be determined by the procedure that you need to undergo. If your anxiety or fears are strong enough that they are causing you to put off much needed dental care, sedation should be considered.
Thankfully, there are a range of options available for patients depending on what their unique needs are.
If your dentist does not offer sedation, or the specific type of sedation you need, ask your dentist to refer you to someone he knows and trusts. You can also do your own research. Look around and see where you need to go in order to seek out the treatment you need.