Believe it or not, dentistry has come a long way in the last several years, and one of the best adaptations to how dentistry is delivered is the option for dental sedation. One of the biggest reasons patients avoid seeking dental care is anxiety. Sedation can help patients relax and lessen discomfort when undergoing a dental procedure. Let’s look at different types of dental sedation and what each of them entails.
Local anesthesia is one of the most popular and basic forms of sedation in dentistry . Topical anesthetics can be used for pre-numbing the local anesthetic delivery site, and this helps to take the “stick” away from delivery of the local anesthetic. Most locals are administered for minor pain relief. Locals take effect within just a few minutes, and typically last a few hours after the dental procedure.
Inhalation Sedation (Nitrous Oxide)
Do you fear injections? This may be the best option for you. Nitrous oxide, or “laughing gas,” as it is commonly called, is used to calm the nerves of patients. With this form of sedation, you breathe in the sedative mixed with oxygen through a nosepiece delivery system. This method is suitable for patients who have general anxiety, and it works very well for children. Inhalation sedation allows you to drive yourself to and from your sedative appointment, because it is only effective when you are breathing the gas. Once the nosepiece is removed, you are back to “normal.”
As the name suggests, oral sedation involves the ingestion of anti-anxiety medication prior to your dental procedure. The pills work to reduce pain and anxiety. Typical oral sedatives used in dentistry include Diazepam (Valium) and Triazolam (Halcion). Most patients experience a deep level of relaxation and anxiety reduction with this method of sedation. For some patients, oral sedatives can be combined with inhalation sedation, if needed. This form of sedation is also called enteral conscious sedation. This type of appointment requires the dentist to be in the clinical room for the entire dental procedure, so it requires a special appointment block for the procedures schedule. A patient who is orally sedated must have a driver to and from their dental appointment.
Intravenous (IV) Sedation
Intravenous or IV sedation can be used for severely anxious patients, and is suitable for long or complex dental procedures lasting 2-3 hours. Most people associate this type of sedation with removal of wisdom teeth, but its use is not limited to oral surgery. This form involves an IV placed with a needle into the patient’s arm. A single dose of the IV sedative is enough to put the patient into a semi-sleep state, remaining conscious but mostly unaware of their surroundings or of the dental procedures. IV Sedation is most often delivered by an oral surgeon or an licensed anesthesiologist. IV sedation also requires the sedated patient to be driven to and from their dental appointment.
General anesthesia typically requires a hospital setting and is usually delivered by a licensed anesthesiologist during the procedure. This type of sedation is used for extremely long and very invasive dental procedures or if the patient requires it for a different medical issue. The sedative(s) are administered through an IV and a breathing tube is used for this form of unconscious sedation.
If you have questions about any of these types of sedation, and would like to consider using sedation during your dental visit, call Cornerstone Dental at (979) 968-9451 to book an appointment and speak with one of our doctors about your specific needs.