Does the thought of having your teeth cleaned make your entire body tense with fear? Would you rather endure the agony of a toothache than step foot in a dentist’s office? You’re not alone. A lot of people are so phobic about going to the dentist that they prefer not to have any treatment.
For people who avoid dentists like the plague, sedation dentistry may take away some of their anxiety. Sedation can be used for everything from invasive procedures to a simple tooth cleaning. How it’s used depends on the severity of the fear.
At Valencia Dental Center, we provide minimal sedation for all procedures when requested or needed. We always want you to be relaxed and comfortable in our surroundings.
What Is Sedation Dentistry?
Sedation dentistry uses medication to help patients relax during dental procedures. It’s sometimes referred to as “sleep dentistry,” although that’s not entirely accurate. Patients are usually awake with the exception of those who are under general anesthesia.
The levels of sedation used include:
- Minimal sedation using Nitrous Oxide — you are awake but relaxed.
- Moderate sedation (formerly called “conscious sedation”) — you may slur your words when speaking and not remember much of the procedure.
- Deep sedation — you are on the edge of consciousness but can still be awakened.
- General anesthesia — you are completely unconscious.
Local Anesthesia numbs a specific area. It is typically delivered by injection or topically, and lasts for up to three hours following treatment. This is the most common form of anesthesia.
Nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, is the agent typically used for inhalation anesthesia. Combined with a local anesthesia, inhalation anesthesia enables patients to feel calm while experiencing little to no discomfort. The patient is able to respond and communicate during the procedure.
Oral Conscious Sedation By taking a benzodiazepine (such as Valium, Halcion, Xanax or Ativan) combined with a local anesthesia before treatment, patients feel significantly reduced anxiety and little to no discomfort. The expression “sleep dentistry” was coined a number of years ago for the practice of oral conscious sedation, but this term inaccurately suggests that patients are put to sleep through oral sedatives prior to treatment.
Intravenous (IV) sedation is another form of conscious sedation. Patients often have no recollection of the procedure and think that they have been asleep. The Dr. is able to communicate with a patient who consciously sedated intravenously. IV sedation is combined with a local anesthetic to block discomfort and maintain a feeling of relaxation.
In more complex surgeries, patients are put in a state of unconsciousness called general anesthesia. A combination of medications is used to induce unconsciousness, making a patient feel no pain during the procedure, and have no recollection of the operation. Another effect of general anesthesia is the relaxation of skeletal muscles. This is important for some operations.