A significant number of Canadians avoid the dentist because they suffer from dental anxiety. Sedation dentistry offers an excellent way to provide a safe, anxiety-free, dental experience to those who are afraid of the dentist. Sedation dentistry is often mistakenly thought to induce sleep. In fact, most sedatives allow the patient to stay awake during the procedure. Sleepiness is a side effect of some medications, but nitrous oxide, oral conscious sedation and IV sedation only work to calm anxiety throughout the dental visit. Some sedatives work so effectively that even the smells and details of the procedure cannot be recalled afterwards. Safety and compliance are two important aspects of treatments, so sedation dentistry offers both the individual and the dentist the best alternative.
What kinds of sedatives are available?
The most popular types of dental sedatives are nitrous oxide, oral conscious sedation, and IV sedation. Different levels of sedation (mild, moderate) can be utilized depending on the individual's needs. Before administering any sedative, the dentist must analyze the full medical history of the patient, as well as taking note of any current medications the patient is taking.
Nitrous OxideNitrous oxide, or "laughing gas," is used as a mild sedative. It is delivered through a nose hood, and is administered throughout the entire procedure. Nitrous oxide elevates the general mood and can evoke a general sense of well-being. Most importantly, it relieves anxiety and reduces pain during the procedure. In addition, some tingling and numbness may be felt. There are very few side effects associated with nitrous oxide, and it has been safely used in dentistry for many years.
Oral Conscious SedationOral conscious sedation is an excellent choice for people who fear needles. Oral medication is provided prior to treatment in order to induce a moderate state of sedation. Though oral sedatives do not cause sleep, they usually dull the senses. This means that most patients cannot remember the pain, smells or noises associated with the procedure. Usually, a dose of medication is taken prior to the appointment, and then topped up during the procedure as required.
IV Conscious SedationIntravenous sedation is a moderate type of sedation. Patients who have previously experienced IV sedation often report feeling like they slept through the entire procedure. Generally, IV sedation is used for shorter treatments. It is administered via direct injection into the bloodstream, which means the effects are immediate. Sometimes patients feel groggy and sleepy when the IV sedatives are withdrawn. This is why it is important to bring a designated driver for the drive home.