What You Should Know About Dental Sedation

February 21, 2018 | By Molar Bear Pediatric Dentistry

Dental sedation is used to calm anxious patients prior or during dental treatments or to keep them comfortable throughout long procedures. Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, is commonly used for restorations such as crowns or root canals. But there are various types of dental sedation that expand beyond laughing gas to wipe away the fear of dentist visits.

What Is Dental Sedation?

Sedation is not the same as pain management. That is what numbing agents are for as part of a dental procedure. However, many patients have a debilitating fear of injections, dental sedation provides a feeling of calm that allows them to receive a shot in the gums comfortably. Even though conscious sedation is used, many patients don’t remember the shot or the procedure afterward.

Types of Sedation Dentistry

  • Nitrous Oxide: Also known as laughing gas, nitrous oxide is used to relax patients before and during dental procedures. This type of sedation is short-term, you will not lose consciousness and it wears off once you stop breathing in the gas. The effects are mild and fast acting, it typically takes effect within 30 seconds from the time you start inhaling. Once the treatment is complete, and you stop breathing in the gas, you are soon able to drive on your own.
  • Oral Sedation: This is another conscious sedation which requires a dose of a prescribed sedative prior to your procedure. You may need to take a pill the night before the procedure and one an hour before, or as directed by your dentist. You will remain awake for the duration of the procedure but in a very relaxed state. This type of sedation is ideal for patients with severe dental anxiety.

    Oral sedation will leave you groggy and sleepy, but these effects should wear off by the following day. You will need to arrange a ride home for after the procedure.

  • IV Sedation: There are several variations of IV sedation. Twilight keeps you conscious, but sleepy. You may not recall the procedure. General anesthesia is less common in terms of sleep dentistry. This type of sedation is needed for major oral surgery, or for patients resistant to other milder options. General anesthesia is administered in a hospital setting. The patient is completely unconscious and monitored by a professional anesthesiologist.

What Kind of Sedation Can Dentists Give?

Most dentists can prescribe oral sedation and administer nitrous oxide. More are getting certified to offer twilight IV sedation. But deep sedation requires a dental professional to complete additional education in general anesthesia. Some clinics have a trained dental anesthesiologist on staff.

Do I Need Sedation Dentistry?

Discuss your fears and concerns with Dr. John F. Zummo before scheduling an appointment. Your Houston dentist will recommend the right type of sedation dentistry to suit your specific needs. Some patients with smaller mouths or sensitive nerves need dental sedation, procedures are simply more pain and cause more discomfort in these individuals. Other patients need extra help to overcome fears and severe dental anxiety.