What is Dental Sedation?
Dental Sedation is an essential part of dental treatment that not only numbs the pain and makes people more comfortable, but helps people feel a sense of comfort about complex or lengthy procedures and may make it possible to undergo much needed dental work. Depending on the type of anesthesia used, dental discomfort can be significantly reduced or completely eliminated.
What are the different types of Dental Sedation?
Several sedation methods and types of anesthesia help control pain, increase comfort, and let patients relax. All the following options are available at Orchard Meadows Family Dental & Denture Clinic:
Topical Anesthesia – This takes some of the sting out of getting a shot. A dental assistant uses a cotton swab to wipe a numbing agent onto the gums and slightly deaden the nerve endings, making an injection less painful.
Local Anesthesia – Novocain or another medication is injected into the mouth and numbs the area to be treated, blocking the nerves that transmit pain. This type of anesthesia is commonly used in combination with a topical anesthesia for fillings, gum disease treatment, or when preparing teeth for crowns. It’s also used in combination with conscious sedation to provide additional pain relief. The effects wear off after a couple of hours, but the area may still feel numb immediately after the procedure, so patients need to be careful while chewing so they don’t accidently bite the inside of their mouth.
Nitrous Oxide Conscious Sedation – Sometimes called, “laughing gas”, nitrous oxide is inhaled through a mask or nosepiece and gives a calming effect that relieves anxiety and helps patients relax. After the dental work is completed, patients inhale pure oxygen to clear away the nitrous. Laughing gas leaves the patients system very quickly, so they’re able to drive home following their dental appointment.
Oral Conscious Sedation – Patients swallow the medication, usually in pill form, about an hour before the procedure begins. Oral sedation makes people very groggy, and they’ll occasionally fall asleep. However, they quickly wake up with a nudge and can communicate with the dentist if needed. Oral sedation temporarily effects memory and motor skills, so patients will need someone else to drive them home following the appointment.
Intravenous (IV) Moderate Sedation – This is the strongest form of anesthesia available for dental procedures and involves IV medications that produce an altered state of consciousness. Memory, anxiety level, and pain perception are greatly reduced, and patients say they feel very relaxed and comfortable. They often feel as if they’ve been asleep because they can’t remember anything that happened after the medication took effect. Patients will feel disoriented for a few hours, so it’s unsafe to drive and they’ll need a ride home from the clinic following the appointment. IV sedation is typically limited to more involved oral surgery procedures and is often covered by medical insurance.
Does each option work for everyone?
No. Everyone is different, so the anesthesia that’s best for one patient may not be right for another. Things like medical history, pain tolerance, and the extent of the needed dental work all play a role in determining which is the right type of anesthesia. Talk with your dentist to decide which option works best for you.
Are there any complications from Dental Sedation?
All forms of dental anesthesia are common, safe procedures, but both the dentist and the patient need to know what’s going on. Before administering any medication, the dentist needs to know the patient’s complete medical history, so they can avoid any possible complications. Side effects are rare and vary depending on the type of anesthesia that is administered. Possible complications may include:
- Swelling at the injection site
- Swelling or numbness in the mouth
More serious risks from IV moderate sedation are extremely rare and are more likely to occur in patients with serious medical conditions, those who are highly allergic, or those with a history of alcohol/drug abuse.
It is important for all patients to wait for the anesthesia effects to wear off before leaving the dental appointment. As mentioned earlier, IV moderate sedation patients are not allowed to drive themselves home.