Several methods of anesthesia are available. The method of anesthesia that is chosen for or by a patient depends upon the nature of the surgical procedure and the patient’s level of apprehension.
The use of sedation in dentistry has revolutionized the way patients view dental visits. Patients who once were afraid or anxious about even the most routine dental procedures now visit the dentist with confidence. Sedation is typically administered to healthy individuals who need help relaxing or managing treatment anxiety. Reasons for needing sedation may include lengthy procedure times, dental phobias, or fear caused by negative experiences in the past.
Did you know…
that there are three different types of sedation dentistry? You can opt for sedation administered in one of the following ways:
- Oral Sedation – A pharmacological agent administered prior to treatment to alleviate anxiety and help patients relax.
- Inhalation Sedation – Also known as laughing gas, nitrous oxide offers a euphoric feeling that makes dental treatments more pleasant.
- IV Sedation – This is a deep sedation reserved for patients who want little or no memory of their dental visits.
This method is relatively simple and involves taking a prescribed medication about an hour prior to your procedure. You’ll feel more relaxed, yet completely aware of your surroundings during treatment.
Nitrous Oxide (Laughing Gas)
Nitrous Oxide is a sweet smelling, non irritating, colorless gas which you can breathe. Nitrous Oxide has been the primary means of sedation in dentistry for many years. Nitrous oxide is safe; the patient receives 50-70% oxygen with no less than 30% nitrous oxide. Patients are able to breathe on their own and remain in control of all bodily functions. The patient may experience mild amnesia and may fall asleep not remembering all of what happened during their appointment.
There are many advantages to using Nitrous Oxide
- The depth of sedation can be altered at any time to increase or decrease sedation.
- There is no after effect such as a “hangover”.
- Inhalation sedation is safe with no side effects on your heart and lungs, etc.
- Inhalation sedation is very effective in minimizing gagging.
- It works rapidly as it reaches the brain within 20 seconds. In as few as 2-3 minutes its relaxation and pain killing properties develop.
Reasons to Not use Nitrous Oxide
Though there are no major contraindications to using nitrous oxide, you may not want to use it if you have emphysema, exotic chest problems, M.S., a cold or other difficulties with breathing. You may want to ask your dentist for a “5 minute trial” to see how you feel with this type of sedation method before proceeding.
Intravenous Sedation (“Twilight Sedation”)
Our office offers our patients the option of Intravenous Sedation or Dental Intravenous Anesthesia or to some it is referred to as “Twilight Sedation” for their dental treatment. Intravenous Sedation or “twilight sleep” helps you to be comfortable and calm when undergoing dental procedures. Your treatment can be completed under intravenous sedation. Intravenous sedation or “IV sedation” (twilight sedation) is designed to better enable you to undergo your dental procedures while you are very relaxed; it will enable you to tolerate as well as not remember those procedures that may be very uncomfortable for you. IV sedation will essentially help alleviate the anxiety associated with your treatment. You may not always be asleep but you will be comfortable, calm and relaxed, drifting in and out of sleep – a “twilight sleep”.
If you choose the option of intravenous sedation your IV sedation/anesthesia is administered and monitored by the doctor therefore eliminating the costly expense of having your treatment carried out in an operating room or same day surgical facility.
How is the IV sedation administered?
A thin needle will be introduced into a vein in your arm or hand. The needle will be attached to an intravenous tube through which medication will be given to help you relax and feel comfortable. At times a patient’s vein may not be maintainable, in these situations the medications will be administered and the needle retrieved – both scenarios will achieve the same desired level of conscious sedation. Once again some patients may be asleep while others will slip in and out of sleep. Some patients with medical conditions and/or on specific drug regimens may only be lightly sedated and may not sleep at all.
The goal of IV sedation is to use as little medication as possible to get the treatment completed. It is very safe, much safer than oral sedation. With IV sedation a constant “drip” is maintained via the intravenous tube. At any time an antidote can be administered to reverse the effects of the medications if necessary. Along with IV sedation there are also other different “levels” of sedation available to you in our office. There is nitrous oxide analgesia.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I choose sedation dentistry?
Only you and your dentist can determine if sedation is right for you. Because sedation covers a spectrum of treatments, you will need to consult with your dentist to discuss whether light, moderate or deep sedation best meets your needs. Your eligibility for sedation will depend on your age, health, and any other medications you may be taking.
What should I expect if I am sedated for my dental procedure?
That depends on the type of sedation you undergo. Oral sedation is relatively simple and involves taking a prescribed medication about an hour prior to your procedure. You’ll feel more relaxed, yet completely aware of your surroundings during treatment. If you choose nitrous oxide, you’ll be instructed to inhale the gas at the beginning of your appointment. Additional nitrous can be administered throughout your procedure to keep you in a state of euphoria. At the conclusion of your treatment, you’ll be given oxygen to help ‘snap’ you out of your sedated state.
If IV sedation is right for you, you’ll be instructed to avoid foods and beverages the night before your treatment. A sedative will be administered to you intravenously prior to your procedure, causing you to fall into a deep sleep. A dental anesthesiologist will monitor you throughout the procedure and adjust dosage as needed.
Are there any precautions I need to take after being sedated?
Depending on the type of sedation you undergo, a licensed driver may need to drive you home from your dental appointment. If you undergo IV sedation, you may need to be supervised for several hours following the procedure.