The Process of Sedation Dentistry

sedation dentistry

Many people are nervous if not afraid of going to the dentist. It’s a fear rooted in pop culture–how many times have you seen it on TV, especially in cartoons? And while every dentist can assure you that for most common procedures there’s minimal if any discomfort to the patient, some of us just can’t get around a sense of nervousness or apprehension when making a trip to the dentist’s office.

There are many solutions, among which is sedation dentistry. Sedation dentistry, as the name suggests, is dentistry done under sedation. Various pharmaceuticals are used to sedate the patient to the desired degree of consciousness–this can vary from completely under/asleep to sedated but still responsive. It all depends on the patient’s needs both medical and emotional–sometimes folks just need a little help dealing with the anxiety and mild sedation can do just that.

So how does the process of sedation dentistry work? Let’s take a look.

After you and your dentist have agreed that sedation dentistry is the right choice for you, you’ll be prepped for the procedure or exam as usual but with the addition of sedation. This can take many forms, depending on the pharmaceutical used and the effect desired. Your dentist can tell you what to expect during your own experience, but according to the American Dental Association sedation usually takes one of the following forms:

  • Inhaled sedation, which uses nitrous oxide, popularly known as laughing gas. It can reduce your anxiety during dental care and provide a feeling of calm.
  • Oral sedation, which involves taking a pill to reduce your anxiety.
  • Intravenous sedation, during which patients receive medication via injection.
  • General anesthesia, which temporarily renders you unconscious. Dentists turn to this method if they require deeper sedation to complete a procedure safely.

Once the chosen method of sedation has been used, your dentist will wait a bit and check on you to ensure that it’s taken hold and that you’re in the desired state of sedation. Once that’s done, the procedure will proceed as normal. When completed, you’ll be given some time to recover from the sedative.

For most sedation dentistry procedures, full sedation isn’t required. This means that things are much simpler and easier. Generally, you’ll be either unaware or only partially aware of what’s going on. You may be able to respond to simple commands and prompts but you likely won’t’ remember much and you won’t feel any discomfort during the procedure. Full sedation is more complex, requiring airway and heart rate monitoring during the procedure and longer recovery time after. It’s generally only used for serious cases or oral surgery, so it’s unlikely you’ll need it for routine procedures.

Sedation dentistry is safe for both children and adults and may offer the alternative you need to deal with dental anxiety. At Reese DDS we’re proud to offer sedation dentistry as part of our ongoing commitment to meeting each patient’s individual needs and helping them progress towards better dental health. Get in touch today and make an appointment and let’s get started!