Do you suffer from a toothache because you’re afraid of the dentist’s office? You aren’t alone. Many people are so terrified of going to the dentist that they go untreated for their dental problems.
Sedation dentistry can help ease anxiety for people who are scared of the dentist. Sedation can be used for invasive procedures to simple tooth cleanings. The method of dental sedation relies completely upon the level of fear experienced by the individual.
What Is Dental Sedation?
Dental sedation uses FDA approved medications to help induce relaxation during dental procedures. It’s sometimes referred to as “sleep dentistry,” although that’s not entirely accurate. In most cases, patients are awake except when under general anesthesia.
The levels of dental sedation used include:
- Minimal sedation: relaxed but still awake
- Moderate sedation (formerly called “conscious sedation”): slurring of words may occur . Much of the procedure may be forgotten
- Deep sedation: on the edge of consciousness, but still awoken when necessary by the doctor.
- General anesthesia: complete unconsciousness.
Types of Sedation Used by Cosmic Smiles for Kids and Adult Dentistry
The following types of sedation are used in dentistry:
- Inhaled (minimal) sedation: Nitrous oxide, aka “laughing gas”, is mixed with oxygen and delivered through a mask placed over your nose, helping you relax. Your dentist can control the amount of sedation you receive, and the gas wears off quickly. This is the only form of sedation where you may be able to drive yourself home after the procedure.
- Oral sedation: can range from minimal to moderate sedation. For minimal sedation, you take a pill. Typically, the pill is Halcion, which is a member of the same drug family as Valium, and it’s usually taken about an hour before the procedure. The pill will make you drowsy, although you’ll still be awake. A larger dose may be given to produce moderate sedation. Some people become groggy enough from moderate oral sedation to fall asleep during the procedure.
- IV moderate sedation: a quick acting sedative drug delivered through a vein. This allows the dentist to continually adjust the level of sedation throughout the procedure.
- Deep sedation and general anesthesia: Medications that will make you almost or totally unconscious during the dental procedure. While under general anesthesia, must wait until the effects of the anesthesia wear off or are reversed with medication to wake up.