We at Imagine Dental know that lots of our patients are nervous of visiting the dentist for any reason. This includes our youngest patients, who may find their first visit to the dentist’s office to be especially scary. The good news is that we have embraced sedation dentistry, a safe and comfortable way to take the fear out of visiting the dentist. Better news is there are several types of dental sedation that can be tailored to the needs of our patients. Here they are:
Minimal Dental Sedation
Many people have had this type of dental sedation. During minimal sedation, you are still awake but in a relaxed state, and you can readily obey the dentist’s instructions. Minimal sedation is often administered through laughing gas, or nitrous oxide. Nitrous oxide is preferred because the dentist can adjust how much they give you, and it is safe and has a very short half life. This means that it wears off quickly, and you don’t have to be driven home after your dental appointment.
Sometimes, the dentist will give you a sedative such as Valium for mild sedation. You’re supposed to take the sedative at least an hour before the procedure starts, and some patients take the pill the night before they come into the dentist’s office in the morning. It makes you a bit loopy, and when it’s combined with nitrous oxide and a local anesthetic injected into the area where the dentist is going to work, it brings a complete, pleasant, pain-free relaxation.
Moderate Dental Sedation
During moderate dental sedation, you are still conscious, but you may not remember your procedure. You can still follow the dentist’s instructions, but you tend to slur your words when you talk. You might even fall asleep, but a gentle shake will be able to wake you up. Some patients get IV sedation, where the sedative drug is delivered through a line placed in a vein in your arm. This gets the drug into your system quickly. As with nitrous oxide, the dentist can adjust how much sedative you receive.
Deep Dental Sedation
During deep dental sedation, the dentist will give you drugs that will either make you unconscious or just barely conscious. This might include IV sedation, and as with moderate dental sedation the dentist can adjust how much sedative you’re given. This kind of control lowers the risk of complications.
You won’t remember the procedure, and you’ll need someone to drive you home afterwards. A lot of patients who are undergoing procedures such as dental implants or wisdom tooth extractions have types of deep sedation.
During general anesthesia you are completely unconscious, and you can’t be awakened by gentle shaking. When you have this type of sedation, the dentist will need the help of a dental anesthetist. Sometimes, patients need to be taken to the hospital if they are going to have general anesthesia for a dental surgery. They’ll be taken to a recovery room afterwards and monitored before they’re allowed to go home. General anesthesia is for our patients who are truly terrified, and sometimes for really young children.
Other patients who may opt for general anesthesia just don’t achieve the same level of relaxation when they have other types of dental sedation as other patients do. Others may have more than one procedure done at the same time or have to have a type of dental surgery that’s complicated, such as taking out a wisdom tooth that’s completely covered in bone. We don’t usually recommend general anesthesia for regular dental work, and we usually find that deep or even moderate types of sedation keeps our patients comfortable.
If you are considering sedation dentistry for yourself or your child, don’t hesitate to set up a consultation with one of our dentists to learn more about it.