When you have a complicated dental procedure such as tooth extraction or implant procedure, dentists may offer you sleep dentistry options. A lot of times, just local anesthesia to manage pain is recommended but some patients have more anxiety and can panic in the procedure room because of the overall feel of the procedure and staff. Some patients require more sedation because of their underlying health conditions that make them more sensitive to pain. Dental sedation options can be of different types, out of which some involve sleep, and some do not. At Dental Town DC, we personally work with you to provide customized sedation dentistry that is safe and effective.

What is Sedation Dentistry?

Dental sedation involves multiple techniques that are used to make the patient comfortable and calm during a complex and/or a long procedure. Laughing gas is commonly used before performing root canals or cleaning and doing deep fillings. Sedation in dental medicine is a large concept and laughing gas is popular because of its name. There are many types of sedation options meant for different procedures and types of patients. It is confusing for many of us because we associate sedation with pain management, but the fact is that local shots or anesthesia, numbing agents, shots, pain medication after procedure etc. are administered in order to reduce the pain but sedation is not typically administered for pain management. Sedation is administered in addition to the pain management or numbing, in order to calm the patient. A patient can be nervous to even take the local anesthesia shot in the mouth so dental sedation can help such a patient to relax so that they can get that shot. There are sedation options that allow patients to sleep throughout the procedure or be awake but completely unaware of the procedure.

Types of Dental Sedation & What to Expect

Laughing Gas

Popularly known as laughing gas, Nitrous oxide is used for mild sedation and is helpful in order to relax patients during various procedures. Some patients do well with just laughing gas, but some patients may need an oral anesthetic injection to numb the area or also require additional sedation. A combination of an anesthetic injection and laughing gas is said to be successful in calming down the patient as well as taking care of the pain. Being a gas, the sedation stops when the patient stops taking in the gas. Patients who get only laughing gas can drive immediately after the procedure.

Oral Sedation

Oral sedation is also called enteral or conscious sedation that requires the patient to take a pill or liquid orally. The dentist or oral surgeon may ask the patient to take a pill an hour before the procedure and one on the night before, this schedule can change depending on the type of procedure and the patient’s overall condition. This sedation leaves the patient awake during the entire procedure, but the patient does not remember anything, or may remember very little parts of what happened during the procedure. A lot of times, invasive procedures such as a sinus lift may require such type of sedation. Patients who tend to get more nervous or anxious can also benefit from this type of sedation. If the procedure is longer, the patient’s heart rate, blood pressure and breathing may be monitored by the oral surgeon and his/her team. This type of sedation requires planning because the patient will be sleepy for a few hours to a day after the procedure and will require someone to drive them home.

IV Sedation – Twilight & General Anesthesia

IV sedation can be of 2 types – Twilight and General anesthesia. The sedative is injected intravenously in both types of IV sedation. In Twilight, the patient is conscious but not aware of what is happening in the surroundings. This sedation makes the patient sleepy and the patient may not remember anything after the procedure. This is a deeper form of sedation and the patient may require a ride home. It will also keep the patient drowsy for a few hours to a day after the procedure. General anesthesia is not usually recommended by dentists and oral surgeons. It is only recommended if the patient is going to undergo a long and complex surgical procedure or for patients that are not responsive to other sedation types. Patients may be asked to fast for some hours before coming in for the procedure. As we all know, the patient will be completely asleep and unconscious during the procedure if general anesthesia is used. This sedation requires monitoring of vital signs such as blood pressure, breathing and heart beats and may also require a medical nurse or anesthesiologist in the facility. There is considerable amount of recovery time after this type of sedation is used.

What Type of Sedation Can I Get?

Our dentists and oral surgeons will explain you about all the possible options if you suffer from dental procedure anxiety or are very sensitive to pain so that the right type of dental sedation option can be opted for. You should also be upfront about all the concerns and questions you have so that your dentist or oral surgeon can help you select the right type of sedation. Make sure to have this discussion on your consultation visit and not on the actual day of the procedure. This is because you may need to plan ahead for fasting and assigning a designated driver if you opt for the IV sedation. Our practice will work with you to determine the correct type of sedation for you so that you’re not nervous on the day of your procedure.

Most dentists can easily provide mild sedation such as laughing gas or even prescribe oral sedation pills as this does not require specific qualification. The dentists and oral surgeons who want to provide IV sedation need to get specially qualified and trained per the American Dental Association (ADA)  guidelines for providing sedation. The board of dentistry in every state also determines the type of license required in order for the dentist to perform sedation. Call our practice to get a consultation on the type of procedure you need, and our oral surgeons will help you opt for the right kind of sedation.