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Sedation Dentistry: Know Your Options
Although modern dentistry techniques have rendered dental procedures virtually pain-free, dental anxiety and even phobias are surprisingly common. In fact, many people put off needed dental work solely due to their fear of the dentist. Fortunately, sedation dentistry can help. From mild sedation to take the edge off through general anesthesia, sedation dentistry is an excellent way to face your dental fears. It is also a great choice for those whose busy schedules require multiple procedures to be done at the same time.
Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, is the mildest form of dental sedation. You will wear a mask over your nose to deliver a mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen. Your dentist will control the ratio of nitrous oxide, and you can always remove the mask if you do not like the way you feel. This ability to control the sedation makes nitrous oxide a good solution for those with a fear of being “put under.” In addition, nitrous oxide wears off very quickly, making it safe for you to drive yourself home after your procedure.
While under the influence of nitrous oxide, you will be aware of what is going on. You can respond to your dentist’s instructions, and will know that you are having a dental procedure. However, you will be deeply relaxed and unafraid.
Oral sedation comes in the form of a pill, such as Valium or Halcion. Depending on the dose you are prescribed, you might feel minimally or moderately sedated. You can respond to instructions, but typically have little conscious awareness of exactly how your procedure is progressing. Some people under oral sedation relax enough to fall asleep, but are easily awakened.
Because oral sedation can leave you feeling groggy, you will not be allowed to drive yourself home. Bring a friend or relative to your appointment to give you a ride.
IV sedation ranges from moderate to deep, depending on exactly what medication and dosage are used. Your dentist will control the level of sedation based on your health history and current needs. With IV sedation, you will probably feel very tired and a bit “out of it.” Falling asleep is extremely common, though you can be aroused quickly.
If you are receiving IV sedation, you may not have anything to eat for at least 6 hours prior to your appointment. In addition, you cannot drive for the rest of the day. Bring someone who can take you home and, if possible, remain with you for several hours. You will likely spend most of your time sleeping, and having someone nearby to care for you can make you more comfortable.
Just like any other surgery, dental surgery can be performed under general anesthesia. You will be completely unconscious, and cannot be awakened until the anesthesia wears off. Your vital signs will be carefully monitored, and you will not be sent home until you are fully awake.
General anesthesia requires an empty stomach. Do not eat or drink for 6 hours before your appointment. You may not drive for 24 hours after general anesthesia. Bring a relative or friend to drive you home and care for you until the residual effects of the anesthesia wear off.
Regardless of which type of sedation you select, your tooth will be thoroughly numbed. You do not have to worry about feeling pain or discomfort from the procedure. Depending on exactly what procedure was done and your own personal needs, you might also be sent home with prescribed pain medications. The best way to minimize pain during healing is to stay ahead of it, so be sure to take your medications as instructed.
Sedation dentistry is a popular option for both adults and children with severe dental anxiety, as well as those who will have extensive work done in a single appointment. However, it is not right for everyone. We will assess your current overall health and any medications you are currently taking, and make a professional recommendation. We are one of the few dental offices in the state certified to administer all levels of dental sedation.
Married dentists Chad and Alexandra Schnabel welcome you to Savannah Dental Solutions. From caring children’s dentistry to high-tech cosmetic procedures and even full-mouth reconstruction, we blend the latest technology with traditional customer-oriented values. To start your journey to better oral health, call us today at (912) 354-1366.