Some patients experience a level of fear about dental care that is so paralyzing that they can’t even consider coming to our office for treatments. In some cases, this anxiety may even prevent patients from seeking routine care like exams and cleanings. Ironically, this fear can actually be self-perpetuating, if the patient delays care until an urgent problem develops, requiring an involved and invasive intervention.
Fortunately, patients can overcome this fear with sedation. Sedation dentistry helps our guests reach a state of deep relaxation during appointments, allowing them to tolerate treatment. Our practice offers a variety of sedation delivery methods to make your experience as comfortable as possible.
Sedation Delivery Methods
We recognize that different patients will have different needs, so we offer multiple sedation delivery methods. Laughing gas, also known as nitrous oxide, is a mild sedative that the patient inhales in gaseous form via a mask throughout the appointment. Nitrous oxide takes effect quickly and is associated with minimal side effects.
IV sedation has a stronger effect, as the sedative is delivered directly to the bloodstream. Patients who are fearful of needles may consider oral sedation as an alternative to IV sedation. We offer IV sedation by special arrangements only.
The dentist will prescribe medication from an anti-anxiety class of drugs known as benzodiazepines, which help to relax the patient and dull the senses. The patient takes the medication prior to the appointment, so it is necessary to have someone drive you to our office if you choose this option.
What can I expect if I choose sedation for my dental procedure?
You may be surprised to learn that you actually remain awake while you are under sedation, although you are deeply relaxed and should not experience any discomfort or unpleasant sensations during the appointment. Some providers refer to this practice as “sleep dentistry,” but that is a misnomer because patients are conscious and able to respond to commands from the dentist, which makes it easier to provide treatment. Additionally, the patient’s airway continues to function normally, which makes conscious sedation safer than general anesthesia. The sedative agents also have amnestic effects, so patients have no recollection of treatment after the appointment.
Prior to your appointment, your dentist will give you instructions to prepare. If you are using oral sedation, you will receive a prescription to fill at your local pharmacy and you will be directed to take the medication in advance of the appointment to give it time to take effect. If you are having IV sedation, you will need to fast for a period of time prior to your appointment. You also will need to make arrangements for someone to escort you home, as the effects of the sedatives may not be fully reversed by the time you leave our office.