Los Lunas

How is Sedation Dentistry Administered and is it Safe?

A visit to the dentist’s office is often linked to anxiety and fear, regardless of whether it is just a check-up or a lengthy procedure.

Visits can inspire lots of adverse feelings that will not easily disappear even with logical explanations. Thus, sedation dentistry is used to manage patient stress.  

Sedation dentistry sounds scary, but it is merely the usage of medication to help patients relax during procedures.

There are many different options for sedation based on what you think you require and what is medically recommended.  

When it comes to sedation options, you will need to make the necessary preparations and be aware of what care is needed afterward.

Some methods of sedation will require you to fast beforehand. Others may mean that you will not be allowed to drive yourself home. Therefore, you should plan to accommodate these situations.  

Read on for some sedation options and how they are administered. Arm yourself with this knowledge, and you can rest assured that you will be well cared for during your next trip to your dentist.

Laughing Gas

According to the UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, is a mild and safe sedative that helps patients, even children, remain calm and relaxed during dental procedures.

The administration method is through a mask that carries air mixed with the medication while you breathe normally through your nose.

Laughing gas is an easy and safe choice for anyone with dental anxiety, fears, and apprehension.  

It is also the least invasive method, only takes about five minutes to take effect, and wears off very quickly.

Remember that you should limit yourself to a small meal if you expect to need laughing gas for your dental appointment.

All other forms of sedation dentistry mentioned here will prevent you from driving yourself home for your safety.  

Oral Sedatives

Oral sedatives are taken through ingestion; that is, you swallow the medicine. Depending on the dosage given, this can be a minimal to moderate sedative.

Typically, you will become drowsy after taking the medication, though you may still be conscious throughout the procedure.

Some patients feel groggy enough to fall asleep, though they can be quickly woken up with a shake.

Medications may take 20 minutes up to an hour to take effect, depending on what is being administered.

Your dentist will advise you to not have anything to eat or drink starting from midnight the night before the appointment. 

Most dental anxieties and fears can be treated safely and effectively with oral sedatives or laughing gas.

Below are a few more options that are available, but to be safe, should require pre-approval from a physician and administered by dental anesthesiologists.

Intravenous Sedation

Intravenous or IV sedation is slightly scarier. The medication is injected into the blood through a vein, usually in the arm or hand.

Although this seems like the worst idea ever, it can be very advantageous too. Using IV sedation allows your dentist to control the amount of medication you get.

So, if you are undergoing a lengthy procedure, more sedation can be given to keep you calm. This is usually a moderate form of sedation that may make you slur your words and forget most of your treatment process.

Deep Sedation

In deep sedation, you will be kept on the edge of consciousness by the use of drugs. That said, you will likely be asleep but can be awakened as well.

Because deep sedation, as well as general anesthesia, are more complex, not all dentists can administer these techniques.

According to WebMD, only dentists who have completed the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) can administer these more invasive types of sedation.

You should check with your physician before considering sedation techniques that can affect some people with pre-existing medical conditions.

General Anesthesia

General anesthesia is a more potent form of deep sedation. You will be completely unconscious and cannot be awakened, even with strong stimulus.

That said, you will have to wait for the effects to wear off on their own. This option requires more careful monitoring and caution.

Be sure to talk to your physician first and then choose a reputable and qualified dentist for a procedure requiring this form of sedation.

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