Patients who experience anxiety, fear of going to the dentist, have a previous traumatic experience or dental phobia, frequently suffer from post-procedure joint soreness, have a severe gag reflex or are difficult to get numb, have a nerve condition called chronic trigeminal neuralgia or “tic douloureax”, or physical conditions not allowing the patient to be able to relax for the duration of the procedure, may find sedation dentistry to be your answer. Studies show that more than 30% of people fear going to the dentist. Sedation dentistry provides a safe and comfortable experience allowing you to get the care you need and the healthy smile you want. Prior to any type of sedation, it is necessary to avoid food and beverage intake, preventing vomiting and aspiration during the procedure. Various types of sedation have different requirements and your dental provider will discuss this in preparation for the procedure.
Nitrous Oxide, otherwise known as “Laughing gas” lives well up to its name. It is effective for timid tykes to anxious adults. It is a safe, easy and effective mode of relieving anxiety often experienced in anticipation of dental procedures. Because it produces a mild euphoric effect, some people get the giggles. While inhaling nitrous oxide, you might feel warm, relaxed, peaceful and lightness in your arms and legs. Your dentist or hygienist adjusts the gas level to keep you comfortable and yet alert for response to questions. The gas has a pleasant “sweet” smell, and the masks are scented with various pleasant scents such as mint, bubble gum, strawberry, vanilla etc. Once the gas is turned off, you will breathe oxygen for a few minutes and will feel “normal” yet still relaxed after the procedure is complete.
Oral sedation by medication of liquid or pills or IV conscious or deep sedation are choices that will allow you to receive safe, comfortable care while obtaining the healthy smile you want. The appropriate medication type and amount is individually chosen for each patient. It is important that you do not eat or drink for 8 hours prior to your appointment. You will need to be prepared to have a driver bring you, stay for the duration of the appointment, and drive you home. You should not drive or make any important decisions the day of your sedation. You may be tired and often sleep for several hours after your appointment. There has never been a documented report of a serious adverse incident due to the use of oral sedation in adults. All patients are monitored for bleed pressure and oxygen levels with an instrument called a pulse oximeter.
IV sedation (intravenous) is a term used when medication is delivered through a vein. An extremely thin soft plastic tube is placed into the arm or back of your hand and medication is delivered through that tube that will allow you to lightly sleep during your procedure. Throughout your procedure, your pulse, oxygen, heart rate and airway are carefully monitored to be sure you are safe while sleeping. Many offices term this “sleep dentistry” or “twilight sleep.” The level of sedation is controlled by the amount and type of medication given. You can remain at a lightly conscious level where you can respond to requests from your dentist if desired. “Deep sedation” or “General Anesthesia” is the term used when the medication takes you to a deeper level of sleep and is delivered and monitored by the anesthesiologist on staff at Powell Dental Group.
The drugs used for IV sedation procedures produce either partial or complete memory loss from the time the drug first starts working until it wears off. Time will appear to have passed very quickly and you will not recall much of what happened, if any at all. The drugs used for IV sedation are not painkillers but are anti-anxiety drugs. While you relax and forget what has happened, you will still need to be numbed. If you have a fear of needles, you will be unaware that you will not be aware they were used in delivering your medication.
As a reminder, have your escort prepared to stay at the office during the entire duration of the procedure. Make arrangements for a care provider to be with you during the remainder of the day and do not perform any strenuous or hazardous activities, including driving a motor vehicle for the rest of the day. Don’t eat a heavy meal immediately. If you are hungry following the procedure, eat something light such as liquids or toast. Don’t drink alcohol. Contact your dentist if you have any unusual problems.
Unfortunately, dental insurance companies currently do not cover the expense of sedation for dentistry, but we do not think they should dictate the quality of care you receive to obtain health. Other methods used to obtain comfort include soft leather chairs, headphones with soothing music or movies, neck pillows & blankets, thoroughly answering any questions you may have, light sedation with nitrous oxide, pre-numbing benzocaine jelly application prior to local anesthetic injections, soft gentle touch with small hands, and genuinely caring about you as a team to develop trust and respect.