Sedation dentistry is not an option that many patients realize is open to them. Most patients simply assume that a visit to the dentist is going to make them anxious and worried.
It doesn’t have to be that way. All our Malo Smile USA dental offices offer a number of sedation options designed to help patients to relax. In particular, sedation is a useful approach when treating people with dental phobias. Many people in the USA suffer from a phobia relating directly to visiting the dentist. It often means that they have anxiety attacks and nausea, or that simply their nervousness and tension means that it is very difficult to treat them successfully.
In many cases, people with a dental phobia will simply avoid going to the dentist. So any potential dental issues that they have will simply get worse and worse, unless they can find a treatment solution.
There are several different types of medicines or drugs which are used in dental sedation, and these can be administered in different ways. They can either be used on their own or sometimes together to provide a sedative effect. It is possible that one of the below methods (such as inhalation sedation) will be combined with another (for example, oral sedation). This will occur in cases when we believe, that the sedative effect from a combination of drugs will be better or more suitable to your circumstances or the procedure which you are undergoing.
One form of dental sedation involves the inhalation of gases which have a sedative effect. Nitrous oxide is the most commonly used gas for dental sedation, and is made up of oxygen and nitrogen gases. Nitrous oxide in this context is commonly known as laughing gas because of the relaxing and calming effects which it has, which could make you feel happy or euphoric.
Inhaled sedation will be administered to you through a mask, attached to a tube. You will inhale through the mask, the nitrous oxide will enter your lungs, and the sedative element will enter your bloodstream and be carried where it needs to be. This will have the effect of making you tired, possibly cause you to sleep, and reduce your sensitivity to pain.
The sedative does not have long lasting effects, and once the procedure is over the after effects of inhaled sedation should wear off reasonably fast. The amount of sedation we give depends upon your susceptibility to its effects, as well as the nature of the dental procedure for which the sedation is required.
Oral sedation involves ingesting a tablet in order to provide a sedative effect. You are given a pill to swallow and this will dissolve, releasing chemicals which make you more relaxed and less sensitive to pain. This method of sedation is the least invasive, not involving any injections or breathing apparatus. It is as simple as swallowing a painkiller. The sedative effects can be quite powerful and it is not impossible that you might fall asleep while under the influence of the sedative. In most cases however, you will maintain consciousness and be aware of what is happening around you.
While you will still be aware of the dental procedure as it is taking place, you will be relaxed and free from anxiety or fear. You will also feel less discomfort from whatever the procedure might be. This is useful for dealing with painful procedures and phobias associated with dentistry.
Oral sedation is very common because it is seen as being simple, quick and effective. It is also a method of sedation which is trusted by us dentists as well as by patients. If you do fall asleep or lose consciousness after the oral sedation has been administered, you will be woken carefully and the procedure will continue. You should therefore not be worried about falling asleep when you have been given an oral sedative.
If you have severe dental anxiety, and we think that it is necessary, you may be given a form of oral sedation to be taken the night before your procedure. This will help you to be relaxed, sleep better and not be so anxious in advance of seeing your dentist that it interferes with the procedure itself. If you do take a sedative beforehand, it is important that you do not drive to your dental appointment. Operating a vehicle while under the influence of a sedative can be dangerous.
Intravenous or IV sedation is a less common method of dental sedation. It is effective at providing relaxation in patients who have severe dental anxiety, and also at dealing with pain in procedures where there is a higher risk or discomfort or increased pain.
In this method of sedation, the sedative is administered through a tube which is attached to a needle (normally inserted into the arm and directly over a blood vessel). This allows for the sedative to be administered directly into the bloodstream (unlike inhaled sedation or oral sedation). This can be argued to make intravenous sedation more effective at dealing with dental anxiety, phobias or pain.
While you are under the effects of intravenous sedation, your safety will be ensured by monitoring your vital signs (breathing, blood pressure and heart rate). This will allow us to prevent complications or deal with any problems which may arise as a result of the sedation.
Deep sedation and general anesthetic
Very rarely, general anesthetic may be required for painful procedures or patients with dental anxiety. This will have the result that you lose consciousness, and are not aware of the dental procedure as it occurs. This makes general anesthetic a useful tool as you are unlikely to experience any pain, discomfort or anxiety while the dental procedure is underway.
General anesthetic in effect creates a barrier between your brain and the nerves in your body. This means that if something which would normally cause discomfort or pain occurs in an area of your body, the signals carried by your nerves are not received by your brain. In this way, your brain will remain oblivious to any pain which it would normally be experiencing, and you will have a comfortable, relaxed and painless procedure.
General anesthetic can be administered either via inhalation or an intravenous drip. Your health, vital signs and level of consciousness will be monitored and maintained by the dentist, nurse or qualified anesthetist.
Once the anesthetic has been decreased, you will steadily regain consciousness. However, there is a possibility that you will experience some unwanted side effects. If you are unwell or lead an unhealthy lifestyle, you are at an increased risk of there being complications during the dental procedure.