Is Dental Sedation the Right Solution? | Dental Treatment Guide

Pain is one of the primary reasons people go to the dentist and ironically, it is also one of the primary reasons that keep them away. Almost one third of Americans are so afraid of the pain from a dentist that they will refuse to go to the dentist unless their current pains leave them no other option.

People who have had painful experiences in the past may not believe that the dental procedures nowadays are nearly painless. They could still be a little uncomfortable though. Some people do not like the noise of the dentist's drill. Being afraid at the dentist can simply make matters worse. According to research, if you are more anxious then you are more likely to be uncomfortable during the dental treatment. Sedation makes a difference. There are certain drugs that can help reduce fear and anxiety. They may also have pain-killing purposes. There are people who refuse to see the dentist without the help of sedatives.

It does not mean that if you are sedated that you are also knocked out. Dentists still prefer conscious sedation which is the type of sedation where you are still awake but very relaxed. Some of the drugs used for sedation can even cause you to forget what happens during the dental treatment. You may feel some discomfort in the procedure but you will not be able to recall it later on. There are several forms of sedation and the most popular are:

  • nitrous oxide or laughing gas. This is the simplest sedative and dentists who are licensed to use it use it a lot. It makes you less anxious and aids in your relaxation
  • oral sedatives include drugs that reduce anxiety like Valium and mild narcotics. Oral sedatives take longer to work compared to nitrous oxide. Oral sedatives can be taken by young children as well. They may prefer this over injections
  • intravenous sedation or IV sedation is a form of sedation that works well because the amount of drug dosage in the blood is easily regulated. If you necessitate more sedation during the operation then the fast acting drugs will be injected into the IV line. The drugs that are used in intravenous sedation are usually the same ones used for oral sedatives although intravenous sedation is more likely to affect your breathing. The dentist or the anaesthesiologist will monitor your oxygen levels during the operation and will provide you with more oxygen if necessary
  • general anaesthesia is the most comprehensive form of anaesthesia where the patient is put to sleep. Administering general anaesthesia on a patient is a complicated process. Some dentists have the equipment and the people to administer general anaesthesia in their clinics although it is more commonly administered at hospitals. General anaesthesia is used for people who require a lot of dental work or for people who can not receive other forms of sedation

In relatively healthy patients and with well-trained dentists, all of the sedation methods mentioned here are safe. The rule of thumb is that the deeper the sedation, the more risky it is. You should also plan in advance if you are getting sedated. Nitrous oxide can be given anytime although the other types of sedation may require abstinence from food for one night before the procedure. You may also need to have someone drive you home after the procedure.

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