Sedation dentistry is the practice of relaxing patients and relieving dental anxiety with the use of medication. This is also commonly referred to as sleep dentistry. However, many sedatives don’t actually put patients to sleep.
A misconception is that all sedation is general anesthesia. However, this is not the case. General anesthesia is the most intense form of sedation that a patient can get and must be carried out in a hospital setting so that your vitals can be carefully monitored while you are unconscious.
However, there are three other commonly used sedatives in dentistry that do not involve placing a patient into a state of unconsciousness. These sedatives range in concentration, effects, and method of administration.
Dental sedation is primarily used to treat dental anxiety and to make patients feel more at ease, especially if they have special needs. Some patients may feel very anxious, stressed, and claustrophobic in a dental setting, or feel uncomfortable with people touching them.
By administering sedation, we help patients feel relaxed and melt away negative emotions like anxiety and stress. This helps improve patient cooperation so that we can get more work done with fewer appointments.
This helps both the patient and the dentist have a smoother appointment. Sedation also comes with a host of other benefits, including suppressing sensitive gag reflexes, relieving pain sensations, improving mobility, and treating restlessness.
Best of all, you do not remember anything afterward. This is a side effect of sedation known as anterograde amnesia. This helps to reduce future dental anxiety because the patient does not have to experience or relive traumatizing thoughts.
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Frequently Asked Questions
If you have dental anxiety, special needs, low pain tolerance, a sensitive gag reflex, or difficulty holding your mouth open for long periods, dental sedation could greatly improve your comfort during your dental appointment.
You must be in good overall health so we will need to have you come in for a consultation so we can review your medical history to determine if you’re a good candidate for sedation. Patients with certain medical conditions, taking certain medications, and who are pregnant or breastfeeding may not be good candidates.
In preparation for nitrous oxide, there is very minimal preparation necessary. After we review your medical history, the dentist will let you know if there are certain medications you should not take on the day of your appointment and other instructions related to your medical history.
Other than that, you will only need to fast for 2 hours leading up to your appointment. This reduces the risk of nausea and vomiting from the sedative. You do not need to make any arrangements for rides or to be monitored for the rest of the day because the sedative wears off instantly.