If you need a major dental procedure, or suffer from dental anxiety or discomfort, you may require sedation at some point in the process. In this article, we assess the different types of sedation and explain why you should consider it for specific procedures.
What Types of Sedation Are There?
Four common types of sedation are used for patients:
- Inhaled Sedation: This form of sedation is induced with laughing gas (nitrous oxide), which has a short-lived effect and can be rapidly adjusted by your dentist during your procedure. As the mildest form of sedation, this is the only case where you have a realistic chance of driving yourself home immediately following the procedure.
- Oral Sedation: This type of sedation covers the mild-to-moderate range, depending on the dosage you’re given. Pills are usually taken about an hour before the procedure, and they produce a sleepy feeling where you won’t care too much about what’s happening. Mild doses leave it at grogginess, but if you need moderate sedation, you could even fall asleep during the procedure.
- IV Sedation: For a flexible level of sedation, you may be given an IV that will pump a sedative directly into your bloodstream. Aside from taking effect much faster than a pill, this allows whoever is managing your sedation to adjust it.
- General Anesthesia: For the deepest sedation, you may be given stronger drugs to induce unconsciousness for the duration of the procedure. Some people prefer this because all they have to do is lie down, and before they know it, everything is finished. This may be necessary for procedures like tooth extraction or patients who have severe anxiety about visiting the dentist. But in most cases, general anesthesia is far more potent than a visit requires.
In addition to the sedation itself, you will likely receive a local anesthetic to numb the work site, as well as some pain-relieving pills if significant work was done.
Why May I Need Oral Sedation?
Oral sedation is suitable for dental patients of all ages, including children, as long as the dentist is properly trained in determining doses based on height and weight. There are many reasons you might need sedation, including:
- A poor gag reflex (which can interfere with the work being done)
- Unusually sensitive teeth
- A low threshold for pain (especially common for children)
- General inability to sit still (also common with children, or from other medical causes)
- Requiring a significant amount of work done, including major procedures like removing a tooth
While oral sedation is an excellent choice for most situations where sedation is needed, there are two times when it may not be the best choice for you.
The first is if you’re taking any medication that could interfere with the sedative. This isn’t a problem for the huge majority of patients, but if you’re taking any other medicines, there’s a small chance they could interfere with the drugs used in the pill. Your safety is a priority for us, so if there’s any potential for conflict, we’ll use a different sedative instead.
The other potential concern is time. Oral sedatives take about an hour to go into effect, and while you should not have any important plans scheduled after your procedure, your driver may not be able to wait around. If you don’t have as much time as you’d like, just let us know when we’re scheduling your procedure, and we’ll plan on using nitrous oxide (or another appropriate sedative) instead.
Why is Oral Sedation Preferred?
At Greenhill Family Dental Care, we often prefer oral sedation as the technique of choice. There are several reasons for this:
- First, oral sedation requires the least upkeep. All you have to do is take the pill when you’re told, and chemicals do the rest. There are no tubes to be tugged or masks to be knocked around, so there’s virtually no chance of it wearing off until it’s supposed to. One of our highest priorities is helping you feel safe and comfortable throughout your dental procedure, and oral sedation is an effective way of doing that.
- Next, it’s good for your wallet. Some dentists charge as much as several hundred dollars for oral sedation, with most of that being pure profit for them. Greenhill Family Dental Care offers you the pill at no added charge, so all you have to do is request (or accept) an oral sedative for your procedure.
- Finally, oral sedation goes into effect over time, so it can help to reduce any feelings of anxiety you’re feeling.
We also offer nitrous oxide for patients who prefer it, though we prefer this as a backup instead of the primary method of sedation. For more information about sedation during dental procedures, contact Greenhill Family Dental Care today.