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Most Asked Questions About Sedation Dentistry

Posted by Steven Lim Joseph Fields Sep 02, 2022

Dental health experts recommend visiting the dentist at least twice a year to ensure a healthy and beautiful smile. However, if the mere thought of sitting in the dental chair makes you nervous or anxious, you can probably think of numerous reasons to skip your appointments. Unfortunately, putting off routine dental checkups can take a toll on your oral health. However, with Reno best sedation dentistry to calm your anxieties and reduce your fears, you’ll get through any type of dental procedure without the stress and discomfort.

Frequently Asked Questions About Sedation Dentistry – Answered!

  • What Exactly Is Sedation Dentistry?

Sedation dentistry covers various techniques and medications to help patients manage their dental anxiety, fear, or phobia. It uses methods and medications that significantly alleviate stress and eliminate pain and discomfort during a procedure. Although it’s often referred to as ‘sleep dentistry,’ it won’t knock patients out.  

  • What Are the Different Types of Dental Sedation?

Inhalation Dental Sedation

Nitrous oxide, commonly referred to as laughing gas, is a combination of nitrous oxide and oxygen administered through a nosepiece. Dentists use this type of sedation during routine procedures such as dental cleanings and examinations. You’ll feel its calming and relaxing effects within seconds after you start breathing it in. Similarly, its effects wear off quickly once you stop inhaling the gas. For this reason, you can drive yourself home after your appointment.  

Oral Sedation

Oral sedation involves taking a prescribed dose of sedative medication before a dental appointment. While most dental care providers use triazolam (Halcion), which belongs to the diazepam (Valium) family, others prescribe other medications, including lorazepam and zaleplon. Depending on your situation, your dentist may instruct you to take one pill the night before and another pill an hour before they start the procedure. Although oral sedation leaves you awake during treatment, you’ll likely remember little or nothing of your appointment.

Intravenous Sedation

Intravenous (IV) sedation involves the introduction of anti-anxiety medication through a small needle inserted into a vein. Since the sedative goes directly into your bloodstream, you’ll feel its effects right away. Your dentist will closely monitor your vitals and adjust the dosage as needed. Although this type of sedation doesn’t put you to sleep, you’ll be less aware of your surroundings. However, you’ll still be able to respond to your dentist’s verbal commands or gentle nudging.  

  • What Are the Different Levels of Sedation?

Minimal Sedation

Patients with mild anxiety will benefit from receiving the lightest level of sedation. In most cases, the dentist usually administers mild sedation through inhalation. Minimal sedation allows the patient to feel relaxed and comfortable without losing consciousness while the dentist works on their teeth. Moreover, the effects of sedation typically wear off within minutes after treatment.

Moderate Sedation

Moderate sedation is an ideal choice for patients with moderate dental anxiety or those who require longer, multiple, or complex procedures. Since this level of sedation typically uses light IV sedation, the patient remains awake throughout their appointment but will be in a deep state of relaxation. Patients receiving moderate sedation should have someone accompany them to their appointment and drive them home because the sedative's effects can take several hours to wear off fully.

Deep Sedation

Patients dealing with moderate to severe dental anxiety and fear will benefit from a deeper level of sedation. Those receiving deep sedation typically go between unconsciousness and consciousness during treatment. In most cases, they won’t have any recollection of the procedure and are unable to respond to questions or verbal commands.  Since it usually takes up to 24 hours for the sedative’s effects to fully wear off, patients should have a family member or friend drive them to and from the dentist’s office.  

  • Who Can Benefit from Sedation Dentistry?

Nervous or Anxious Patients

Perhaps the most obvious use for sedation dentistry is for patients with dental anxiety. Statistics show that around 40 million Americans avoid going to the dentist due to nervousness or fear. While laughing gas can take the edge off in mild cases, oral and IV sedation are the best options for patients struggling with moderate to severe dental anxiety.

Patients Undergoing Lengthy and Complex Treatments

While dentists use local anesthetics to numb the area during dental procedures, patients undergoing complex treatments involving multiple procedures may benefit from sedation dentistry. Sedatives can significantly put their mind at ease and help them stay comfortable in the dental chair while getting root canal therapy or having dental implants placed.

Patients with Sensitive Teeth and Gums

While pain is one of the biggest concerns for most people during dental appointments, the threshold of pain someone can comfortably withstand significantly varies from person to person. Since patients with sensitive teeth or gums often have a low pain threshold, their discomfort usually interferes with dental procedures. Thankfully, sedation dentistry can make dental treatments comfortable for patients with hypersensitivity.  

Patients with a Sensitive Gag Reflex

The pharyngeal reflex, commonly referred to as the gag reflex, occurs in the back of the mouth whenever the body tries to protect itself from swallowing a foreign object. Although this is a natural bodily response, an overly sensitive gag reflex can cause extreme discomfort during dental check-ups and procedures. Besides quieting the nervous voices inside the patient’s head, sedation dentistry also quells their urge to gag because it renders the pharyngeal reflex powerless.  

Patients with Special Needs

Since dental treatments involve highly detailed work, patients must remain still throughout their time in the chair. Unfortunately, sitting still, laying back, and holding the mouth open for long periods is virtually impossible for patients with physical challenges. Likewise, patients with cognitive disabilities may not be able to understand or follow instructions and communicate their concerns to the dentist.  

Besides allowing patients with special needs to relax in the dental chair, sedation dentistry also helps dentists save time and cover more work with fewer appointments.

Considering Reno’s Best Sedation Dentistry?

The dental professionals at Smile Design Implant Centers are committed to making patients feel comfortable from the moment they come in until the moment they leave. Moreover, we’re dedicated to ensuring they understand the importance of having a perfect smile and how to take excellent care of it.  

Our patients can expect to experience high-quality service and state-of-the-art technology from a premier practice in dental transformation. If you’re looking to improve your health and quality of life by achieving a beautiful and confident smile, contact our office today to request an appointment.

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