Dental fear or phobia is a genuine problem that prevents many people from seeking the essential dental care they need to maintain good oral and overall health. With sedation dentistry, your dentist can help you overcome dental fear and undergo any necessary treatment.
What is Sedation Dentistry?
Sedation dentistry is an umbrella term that covers any type of dental treatment performed while the patient has received medication that causes a sedative effect. That means that sedation dentistry can include something as simple as a teeth cleaning or something more complex, like dental surgery with tooth extractions and placement of dental implants.
The use of a sedative medication aims to reduce anxiety or fear, produce drowsiness and/or sleep, and cause the patient to remain still and calm throughout the procedures. Most of the sedatives used in dentistry also produce an amnesia-like effect, so the patient does not remember the various sensations of the dental procedure, even if he or she remains awake.
Are There Different Types of Sedation Dentistry?
In general, we can group the most common types of sedation dentistry into three categories, based on their modes and levels of sedation.
- Nitrous Oxide (Laughing Gas): Nitrous oxide is an inhaled medication delivered to the patient through a rubber nosepiece. Technically, nitrous oxide is not a sedative, but instead an anxiolytic. This term simply means that it reduces anxiety. Most patients do not fall asleep when breathing nitrous oxide, but they do experience a reduced heart rate and blood pressure. Some feel drowsy or relaxed. Nitrous oxide is a wonderful method of calming anxious children, and it makes procedures seem much shorter than they actually are.
- Oral Sedation: Oral sedation is any type of sedation in which the patient takes an oral medication (pill) to produce the sedative effect. Dentists use a variety of medications for oral sedation, with close relatives of Valium being the most commonly used. These medications do produce drowsiness, so most patients sleep throughout their dental treatment. Oral sedation does take quite some time to wear off, so the patient must not drive or return to work until the following day.
- Intravenous Sedation: IV sedation uses many of the same medications as oral sedation, differing only in the method of administration. As the name implies, this type of sedation involves giving the sedative intravenously. IV sedation requires a higher level of certification, and many dentists do not provide this service.(Many specialists do.)
Is Sedation Dentistry Safe?
Sedation dentistry is generally very safe. Dentists are tightly regulated by their licensing boards regarding who can administer the various types of sedation. Additional education and training are required for dentists to administer any type of sedative medication.
Your dentist must understand all the details of your overall health and medical history in order to keep you safe, so you, as the patient, must disclose everything you know about your health status.
Nitrous oxide is the safest and mildest form of sedation. However, it does not produce deep sedation, so many people remain awake and aware, which does not meet their needs. Oral sedation and IV sedation both produce deeper sedation, and IV sedation is actually slightly more precise in its dosage and distribution, which makes it safer.
Who Should Consider Sedation Dentistry?
Sedation dentistry is a wonderful option for anyone who avoids seeing the dentist from fear or anxiety. Dentists also recommend it for patients who have treatment needs that will involve long, invasive appointments. Sedation can keep you quiet and comfortable for several hours in the dental chair.
Many children require sedation to undergo necessary dental treatment when they are too young or unable to sit still and quietly in the dental chair.
More Questions About Sedation Dentistry? Call Rockland Dental Today!
Call Rockland Dental Specialists today at (845) 259-2500 or contact us to schedule a consultation with our dental experts. We can answer any questions you have about sedation dentistry and discuss the various options we offer in our office.