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Sedation Dentistry

The use of sedation in dentistry has revolutionized the way patients view dental visits. Patients who once were afraid or anxious about even the most routine dental procedures now visit the dentist with confidence. Sedation is typically administered to healthy individuals who need help relaxing or managing treatment anxiety. Reasons for needing sedation may include lengthy procedure times, dental phobias, or fear caused by negative experiences in the past.

Did you know…

that here are three different types of sedation dentistry? You can opt for sedation administered in one of the following ways:

  • Oral Sedation – A pharmacological agent administered prior to treatment to alleviate anxiety and help patients relax.
  • Inhalation Sedation – Also known as laughing gas, nitrous oxide offers a euphoric feeling that makes dental treatments more pleasant.
  • IV Sedation – This is a deep sedation reserved for patients who want little or no memory of their dental visits.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is IV Sedation?

IV sedation involves administering a sedative through a vein, allowing the medication to work very quickly. Since it’s administered intravenously, the dentist is able to adjust the level of IV sedation as needed for the procedure. This makes it easy to tailor the amount of sedative used to the specific patient, reducing the risk of complications and side effects. While you’ll still be in a semi-awake state and you’ll probably be able to communicate with the dentist, most patients have little or even no memory of the procedure when IV sedation is used. IV sedation is often recommended by dentists for a variety of procedures to make it easier to relax during stressful, long treatments and other types of invasive dental treatments.

The Benefits of IV Sedation Dentistry

Some of the benefits of IV sedation dentistry include:

  • Offers a Higher Level of Sedation – When compared to oral sedation or inhalation sedation, IV sedation offers a higher level of sedation.
  • Works Quickly – Since medications are administered intravenously, the medications begin to take effect quickly. Oral sedatives can take an hour or more to act.
  • Quick Recovery Times – Patients generally have a shorter recovery time with IV sedation than they do with oral sedation or general anesthesia.
  • Works for Severe Anxiety – Even patients dealing with severe anxiety can benefit from IV sedation, since it achieves a high level of sedation.
  • Amnesia – Amnesia is a common side effect of the medications used for IV sedation, so patients rarely remember the dental procedure.
  • Diminishes the Gag Reflex – For patients with a sensitive gag reflex, the IV sedation can help to suppress that reflex, making dental treatment easier.
  • Patients are Still Conscious – Patients stay conscious during this type of sedation, making it a great alterative to general anesthesia for patients who want to avoid the risk of complications that come with general anesthesia, the high costs, or for those who may not be healthy enough to undergo general anesthesia.

Should I choose sedation dentistry?

Only you and your dentist can determine if sedation is right for you. Because sedation covers a spectrum of treatments, you will need to consult with your dentist to discuss whether light, moderate or deep sedation best meets your needs. Your eligibility for sedation will depend on your age, health, and any other medications you may be taking.

What should I expect if I am sedated for my dental procedure?

That depends on the type of sedation you undergo. Oral sedation is relatively simple and involves taking a prescribed medication about an hour prior to your procedure. You’ll feel more relaxed, yet completely aware of your surroundings during treatment. If you choose nitrous oxide, you’ll be instructed to inhale the gas at the beginning of your appointment. Additional nitrous can be administered throughout your procedure to keep you in a state of euphoria. At the conclusion of your treatment, you’ll be given oxygen to help ‘snap’ you out of your sedated state.

If IV sedation is right for you, you’ll be instructed to avoid foods and beverages the night before your treatment. A sedative will be administered to you intravenously prior to your procedure, causing you to fall into a deep sleep. A dental anesthesiologist will monitor you throughout the procedure and adjust dosage as needed.