As dental procedures have become less invasive over the past few decades, it’s no longer necessary to be put to “sleep” for a procedure that might have meant a noon-day nap not so long ago. What should you know about sedation dentistry? What are the benefits, and why is it used?
How Sedation Dentistry Can Help
Sedation dentistry is generally used to create an anxiety-free experience for the patient. As much as 30 percent of the population suffers from “dental phobia” or a fear of going to the dentist, according to the Dental Organization for Conscious Sedation (DOCS). This phobia can mean that patients do not receive routine dental care, which can compromise their oral, and overall, health.
Using sedation, we are able to relax and calm you before any type of dental procedure. Levels of relaxation vary, from minimal to moderate to deep sedation. Techniques to achieve sedation include traditional methods of inhalation, including “laughing gas” (or nitrous oxide), or intravenous (or IV) sedation – delivered through injection into the blood vessels of the arm or hand. The most common approach to calm patient fears is through “no needle” oral sedation that we offer.
How Does It Work?
Oral sedation lets you maintain a level of consciousness, which allows you to cooperate and follow commands, but prevents from remembering much of what happened. Sedation shortens one’s impression of the amount of time the procedure actually takes – many patients think that procedures undertaken while sedated last “only a few minutes.” This can act as a time-saving benefit because more work is able to be completed in a single appointment, and fewer appointments are needed. For this reason, sometimes sedation may be covered by insurance if a patient is able to complete a complicated procedure in a single appointment, but usually it is not covered.
Dentists must receive thorough additional training or even get accredited to practice sedation dentistry, and it is widely believed that any risks of sedation are far outweighed by the risks of you not getting the care you need. So if visiting the dentist gives you the chills, be sure to ask us about oral sedation during your next appointment or call us for a sedation consultation.
Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, is a colorless and nearly odorless gas used as a sedative to reduce anxiety during a dental visit or during surgery, and is delivered via tubing connected to small “mask” that is placed over your nose. There are varying degrees of sedation that can be achieved using nitrous oxide, the effects of which range from mild tingling and euphoria to drowsiness, depending on the level of the gas used, and its percentage mix with oxygen.
Nitrous Oxide has been used for dental treatments since its discovery in 1772, and is directed mainly at achieving the following outcomes:
- Reduce or eliminate anxiety
- Minimize movement during dental treatment
- Enhance the clarity of communication and aid patient cooperation
- Temporarily increase one's pain threshold
- Increase tolerance for longer appointments
- Aid in treatment of the mentally/physically disabled or medically compromised patient
- Reduce gagging
- Enhance the effect of sedatives