Does the thought of going to the dentist, even for a teeth cleaning, make you cringe? Do you get anxious about your appointment, even to the point of canceling it all together? If you answered yes to these questions, just know that you are not alone. A lot of people experience this phobia of going to the dentist. While it is not healthy to avoid going to the dentist, we understand that the anxiety is real. That is why sedation dentistry is an ideal option for those who need help relaxin during their procedures.
What is Sedation Dentistry and How Does it Work?
Sedation dentistry is when the dentist uses medication to help patients relax during their dental procedure. There are a few different types of sedation or “levels.”
- Minimal sedation – You are awake with this type of sedation but in a relaxed state
- Moderate sedation – In this sedation, you may slur your speech or not remember much of your procedure. Your memory may seem “clouded”
- Deep sedation – This type of sedation is when you are on the edge of consciousness but you can still be awakened
- General Anesthesia– You are completely unconscious
Within these levels of sedation, there are different methods that a dentist can offer.
· Inhalation Sedation – This is known as laughing gas, happy gas or nitrous oxide. This is a gas that you simply inhale. It does not have a smell or color, and it does not irritate the skin, mouth or throat. Nitrous Oxide helps to kill pain, and it induces a sense of calmness. Sometimes it can make a person happy to point of giggling, hence the name “laughing gas.” When laughing gas is administered, it takes a mere 20 seconds to reach the brain and about 2-3 minutes to develop any pain-killing properties.
· Oral Sedation – These are anti-anxiety pills/liquid. In dentistry, they are most commonly referred to as ‘Benzos’ or Benzodiazepines (Valium, Halcion, Xanax or Ativan). Benzos work by decreasing the anxiety by binding to receptors in the brain which tone down activity in the parts of the brain responsible for fear. These drugs induce a calming effect and act primarily as a way to relieve anxiety and make you feel calmer.
· Intravenous (IV) Sedation – These drugs are administered through the blood stream. When you have IV sedation you are in a deep state of relaxation not feeling bothered by what is going on. If you have IV sedation you will experience either partial or full memory loss for the period of time when the drug first kicks in and when it wears off. Time may feel like it went by very quickly once you awaken so it may appear that you were ‘asleep’ during this time.
Is Sedation Dentistry safe? Are there any side effects?
As with any medication, there are always risks or side effects (though these are usually rare). Sedation dentistry is usually always safe if administered by an experienced dentist or anesthesiologist. There are risks that should be taken with any medication; therefore, it is important to discuss your medical history and any medications you are taking with the dentist before a procedure. Most of the side effects that come along with sedation dentistry include waking up or coming into full-consciousness with a clouded memory or complete memory loss, dry mouth, hiccups, light-headedness, headache, dizziness, amnesia or nausea.
What Sedation Options do we offer?
If you experience anxiety when going to the dentist, we want you to know that we offer sedation dentistry to help make your experience more comfortable. Depending on your level of anxiety, we offer three different levels of sedation – minimal, moderate and deep sedation. Before your appointment, we will discuss which option would be best for you and your level of comfort. For more information on the sedation dentistry services that we offer or to schedule an appointment, contact us here!