Facts About Dental Sedation

For several decades, dental care has been about much more than filling and pulling teeth. Today, there have been many technological- and health-related advances made in the fields of orthodontics, endodontics, and cosmetic dentistry. Many of the newest procedures available to improve the health and appearance of your smile require some sort of sedation. Understanding the different options available to you will lower your anxiety level each time you make an appointment for either mandatory or elective treatments in your mouth.

There are two main ways to administer sedation to a patient: orally and intravenously. Both work well, though each has its own pluses and minuses.

Oral Sedation:

  • You will wear a mask over your nose during the dental treatment.
  • You will inhale and exhale through your nose, breathing in a gas mixture containing nitrous oxide and oxygen.
  • The gas produces a calm, or even a euphoric, feeling. Patients using nitrous oxide have reported that they were aware of the dentist working in their mouths and even experienced slight pain or discomfort, but the pain did not distress them in the least.
  • During treatment, the dentist will periodically increase and decrease the amount of nitrous oxide you inhale, depending on the intensity of the treatment at any given time.

Advantages: You will never feel loss of control and will remember everything about the treatment. Soon after the sedation ends, you will feel completely normal and can drive yourself home.

Disadvantages: If you are undergoing an invasive procedure such as gum surgery or a root canal treatment, you will be aware of everything your dentist is doing to your mouth, real time, and just the knowledge of that may be upsetting to you after the treatment.

Intravenous Sedation:

  • An IV line is attached to a small needle inserted in the back of your hand.
  • An anti-anxiety drug is fed into your bloodstream via the IV tube.
  • After several seconds, you will begin to feel relaxed and lightheaded.
  • You will be conscious and responsive during the procedure, but the drug produces short-term memory loss, and you will remember almost nothing about the treatment.

Advantages: You will not remember anything about the treatment and will therefore suffer no anxiety afterwards due to memories of cutting, drilling, filing, etc.

Disadvantages: You will be slightly disoriented after the IV sedation is discontinued and you "wake up". You need someone to accompany you home and make sure you are back to your normal self before leaving you alone.

Whichever method of sedation you choose, make sure your dentist is licensed to administer it and verify that a dental hygienist or assistant will be present at all times in the room while you are sedated. This is so that your vital signs can be monitored.

For more information, contact a business such as Eden Prairie Dental Care.