Oral Surgery

Stress-Free Dental Experience with Sedation Dentistry

Stress-Free Dental Experience with Sedation Dentistry
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3 Jun

Many people cancel or miss dental appointments due to dental anxiety. This fear can stem from a past negative experience, uncertainty about necessary work, or the assumption that treatment will be uncomfortable. If you're among the over 30 million Americans who have a fear of dentistry so severe it keeps you from receiving necessary care, know that you're not alone -and that solutions are available. Sedation dentistry is the quickest and easiest way to ensure a calm, relaxed experience during your next dental visit,and there are several types available.

Two Different Types of Sedation

Sedation can be divided into two categories: conscious and unconscious sedation. The one that will work best for you depends on both the extent of your nervousness about your dental appointment and the complexity of the procedure.

  • Conscious Sedation: Most dental sedation falls under the category of Conscious Sedation, where you remain calm and somewhat alert during the dental procedure. You may even feel a pleasant sensation. There are various levels of conscious sedation, but it's important to note that, despite this, you can be awakened, albeit with increasing difficulty as the sedation deepens.
  • Unconscious Sedation: You remain unconscious throughout the procedure. Waking you up requires a combination of medications used to reverse the anesthesia and time. This type of sedation is typically a good solution for complex oral surgery cases and implants.

Different Levels of Sedation

Sedation dentistry also offers different levels of sedation, ranging from mild to deep (conscious sedation), and general anesthesia (unconscious sedation). Here's what you can expect to experience at each level:

  • Minimal Sedation (Anxiolysis): You'll feel relaxed, perhaps a little light-headed, and might even feel good about the procedure. You can breathe on your own, but your coordination may be impaired slightly.
  • Moderate Sedation: You'll feel the effects of the sedation as you might slur your words slightly and your coordination becomes impaired. However, you'll still be able to breathe fine and respond to questions and requests.
  • Deep Sedation: You'll feel heavily sedated as you drift near unconsciousness. It's possible to wake you, but not easy, and you won't remember much of the procedure. Some patients may need assistance with breathing.
  • General Anesthesia: You'll be completely unconscious and won't feel pain. You won't be able to respond to stimuli (even pain) or wake up on your own.

Common Types of Dental Sedation

The most commonly used types of dental sedation include Nitrous oxide (laughing gas), Oral Sedation, and IV sedation.

  • Nitrous oxide: This treatment involves inhaling a mixture of pure oxygen and nitrous oxide through a small mask that covers your nose. You will feel calm and relaxed while remaining awake. The sedation effects wear off quickly once you start breathing pure oxygen again. The major benefit is that you can drive yourself to and from the dental appointment, as no special transportation arrangements are needed.
  • Oral Sedation: This method involves taking sedative pills, such as Valium, the night before and during the appointment as needed. It provides a deeper level of relaxation compared to laughing gas while allowing you to maintain your protective reflexes and ability to communicate throughout the procedure. Most patients will fall asleep during the treatment and remember very little about it due to the sedation's amnesic effect.
  • IV Sedation: This method involves an anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist who sedates the patient using medications administered intravenously (IV). It ensures maximum patient safety.

The two types of IV sedation are:

  • Twilight IV sedation: This type of sedation allows the patient to be conscious during the procedure, but in a state of complete relaxation.
  • General Anesthesia: This form of sedation is used for significant oral surgeries or for patients with a high tolerance for other types of sedation. The patient is unconscious during the procedure and only regains consciousness when the anesthesiologist revives them.

If you experience dental anxiety, it can be tempting to avoid or cancel dental appointments. However, neglecting your oral health can lead to more serious dental problems requiring more invasive and costly treatments down the line. Fortunately, sedation dentistry can help you overcome these obstacles, enabling you to receive necessary dental care in a comfortable and stress-free manner.