Sedation dentistry uses medication to help you feel more calm and relaxed during your dental procedure. Sometimes called conscious sedation dentistry, you will experience forgetfulness and insensitivity to pain all while still being conscious. Sedation dentistry can be used on patients of all ages.
There are a variety of reasons sedation may be requested or required for a dental procedure:
- Dental anxiety
- Fear of visiting the dentist
- Overly sensitive gag reflex
- Phobia of needles
- Severe teeth sensitivity
- Decreased sensitivity to local anesthesia
- Difficulty controlling body movements
- Physical, cognitive, or behavioral special needs
Types of Sedation
Your level of anxiety, length of your procedure, health history, and personal preferences will all be considered by your dentist before the procedure. Common types of sedation include:
- Inhalation sedation: Nitrous oxide sedation or, “laughing gas,” is one of the most common types of sedation. Though it doesn’t relieve pain very well, it’s a great anti-anxiety option. A mask is placed over your nose, which pumps out a mixture of oxygen and nitrous oxide. Inhaled sedation makes you feel light-headed and relaxed, but the effects wear off quickly after the procedure.
- Oral sedation: Your dentist will give you a sedative medication in the form of a pill or liquid, about an hour before your procedure begins. The most common medications include triazolam, diazepam, zaleplon, lorazepam, or midazolam oral syrup. Liquid sedation is more often used in pediatric dentistry. Even though oral sedation makes you feel very groggy and sleepy, you’ll still be able to communicate with your dentist. Once the procedure is finished, you will need someone to drive you home since oral sedation affects memory and motor skills.
- Intravenous (IV) sedation: Out the different types of sedation offered in a dental office setting, IV sedation is the deepest a patient can go while still maintaining some consciousness. The medication is administered directly into your bloodstream through an IV line, much like if you were in the hospital getting fluids. Throughout the procedure, your heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen levels will be monitored closely, so that the dosage of medication can be adjusted as necessary. Most patients fall asleep with IV sedation and rarely remember treatment when they wake up. This is the best option for those undergoing a lengthy dental procedure or those who suffer from severe dental anxiety. The effects of IV sedation may take several hours to completely wear off, so you will need someone to drive you to and from your appointment.