An Expert’s Guide to Sedation Dentistry

Dental anxiety is real and we have all experienced it. Most dental experiences are not only uncomfortable, they are downright scary. The thought of dental drills and sickle probes inside our mouths fill us with a sense of dread. 

Some of us prefer to bear the toothache rather than visiting the dentist himself. 

Sedation dentistry gives anxious patients a way out of this fear. It can be used for all types of dental procedures; from a simple tooth cleaning process to complicated processes like root canal and dental implants. Let us take a look at what sedation dentistry is and what does it entail.

What is Sedation Dentistry?

Sedation dentistry involves the use of certain medicines that sedate and relax patients before they undergo dental procedures. Sedation dentistry is sometimes falsely referred to as sleep dentistry. In reality, patients are awake during sedation dentistry but are otherwise relaxed. 

Sedation dentistry has the following levels: 

  • Minimal sedation – the patient is relaxed yet fully conscious.
  • Moderate sedation – the patient is in a half-awake, half-unconscious state of mind.
  • Deep sedation – the patient is nearly unconscious but he can be awakened. 
  • General anesthesia – the patient is completely unconscious.

Types of Sedation Used in Dentistry

The following forms of sedation are commonly used in dentistry:

Inhaled Minimal Sedation

  • This involves the use of nitrous oxide which is referred to as laughing gas. Nitrous oxide is used in combination with oxygen. Both gases are injected through a mask that is placed over the nose. Nitrous oxide is a sedative and a dentist would know the concentration and quantity of the gas that can be administered to the patient. 

The sedative effects of nitrous oxide wear off soon. If you have received minimal sedation through inhalation, you can even drive yourself home after the dental procedure. 

Oral Sedation

  • This type of sedation involves the oral injection of the sedative. If the intention is to produce mild sedation in the patient, then a pill containing Halcion is given to the patient. Patients are required to take the pill an hour before the dental procedure. The pill instills drowsiness, but the patient is conscious. 

If the intention is to produce moderate sedation in the patient, then an increased dose of Halicon needs to be administered to the patient. Injecting moderate levels of oral sedation is the most commonly used sedation for dental procedures. Patients can fall asleep after consuming Halicon in moderate doses. 

IV moderate sedation

  • This is an intravenous form of sedation. The sedative is administered by injecting it into the body. Intravenous sedation gives instantaneous results and a person falls asleep soon after the dose has been administered. 

The dentist can adjust the level of sedation continuously in the case of IV sedation. 

Deep sedation and General Anesthesia

  • This is the most intense form of sedation. When a person is administered general anesthesia, he goes into a state of complete unconsciousness and cannot be awakened easily. 

comprehensive guide to sedation dentistry

Is Sedation Dentistry Safe For Me?

Sedation dentistry is considered somewhat controversial because it entails certain risks. Some people who suffer from obesity or sleep apnea may not be suitable candidates for sedation dentistry. If you have reservations about sedation dentistry, consult a qualified dentist, and share your reservations. 

The experts at Icon Dental Center located in Seattle and Everett know how to administer sedatives for dental procedures. When visiting a dentist for sedation dentistry, you should discuss the following points:

  •  Your medical history and any medicines you are currently taking.
  • Ask the dentist if the sedative is appropriate for your age.
  • Ask questions about the dentist’s past experiences of sedation dentistry and what precautions can you take to make the process as smooth as possible.  
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