What Exactly Is Sedation Dentistry?
There are a number of different levels of sedation that are sometimes used before a dental operation. With “deep sedation,” you would be on the edge of consciousness but still awake; with moderate sedation, you might not remember much about the operation and slur a few words if you speak. But generally, only minimal (light) sedation is needed with dental patients.
With minimal sedation, you usually inhale a little nitrous oxide (laughing gas) through a mask placed over your nose. Oxygen will be inhaled along with it to help you breathe easier.
The sedative will help you relax while in the dental chair, and you will remain conscious the whole time. It’s not strong enough to put you to sleep, even though some misleadingly refer to sedation dentistry as “sleep dentistry”.
The effects of the nitrous oxide will not last very long – just enough to keep you relaxed during the dental procedure. You may need to have someone drive you home afterwards, just to be safe, but there are no long term effects.
And no, laughing gas won’t likely make you laugh when used for dental purposes since it’s not used in high enough concentrations for that!
When Does Dental Sedation Make Sense?
Some dental operations, like laser periodontal treatment for example, don’t even require a local anesthetic much less oral sedation. But that’s not to say that sedation doesn’t “make sense” in these instances.
If you experience a lot of anxiety in the dental chair, sedation could help you relax, which also helps the procedure go quicker – since the dental practitioner doesn’t have to worry so much about you making sudden, fearful twists and turns during the procedure!
If you have extremely sensitive teeth, a low pain threshold, or a gag reflex tendency, then sedation also makes sense for those reasons as well.
Furthermore, if there’s just a lot of dental or periodontal work to be done in one sitting, just about anyone will benefit from mild oral sedation.
Be Safe About Oral Sedation
Oral dental sedation is perfectly safe when administered by a trained, licensed professional – even for children, who are often the most anxious of all patients.
But be sure of the following when anyone administers oral sedation to you:
- Your medical history and any medications you’re currently taking have been reviewed.
- The dosage is appropriate to your age and health level.
- Your vital signs are being monitored during sedation by a trained professional.
- Oxygen and artificial ventilation have been provided.
- Drugs to reverse the effects of the sedative are ready at hand – just in case (though rarely needed.)
Mild oral sedation via nitrous oxide is standard and proven safe and effective in modern dentistry, but always be aware of these safety safeguards nonetheless.
To learn more about sedation dentistry, feel free to contact periodontist Dr. Kenzik in Ormond Beach, FL, today!