What Is Sedation Dentistry?

Many dental patients put off dental treatment because they fear the pain of the procedure. But dental treatment doesn't have to be painful. Modern dentistry is far less painful than dentistry of the distant past. And one means that dentists have of reducing pain is sedation dentistry.

If you have dental anxiety or a fear of dental pain, then sedation dentistry is a good option for you. Sedation dentistry comes in several forms.

IV sedation (injection)

A dentist can administer IV sedation via an injection. This type of sedation will put you into a deeply relaxed state, although you will still be aware of the procedure. If you don't like injections, then you may need to opt for another type of sedation.

Nitrous oxide (gas)

This gas is also known as laughing gas. Dentists administer this gas through an apparatus that they place over your nose. For nitrous oxide to work effectively, patients need to breathe in the gas continuously during a dental procedure. However, this type of sedation is completely safe for patients.

Some dentists will also use this type of sedation for patients that are afraid of local anesthetic injections during dental procedures. If you fear needles but need to have a local anesthetic to numb an area of your mouth before a procedure, your dentist can give you nitrous oxide before and during the injection to help you relax.

Enteral sedation (pill form)

Some dentists will only offer sedation in pill form. If patients are nervous about a dental procedure, then their dentist may give them an oral sedative in pill form to take before their treatment begins. And for especially nervous patients, dentists will combine oral sedatives with nitrous oxide to ensure that their patients can relax fully during a dental procedure.  

General anesthesia (injection)

If you have severe dental anxiety, then a general anesthesia may be necessary. This type of sedation dentistry will put you to sleep. During the operation, you will feel nothing. However, after the dental procedure, you will need to make sure that you have someone to give you a lift home, since the anesthesia takes several hours to wear off.

Dentists also choose to use general anesthesia when they need to perform a complicated or long dental surgery. This allows them to work unhindered while their patient sleeps.

Not every dental office can provide all of these sedation dentistry options. If sedation dentistry is something you think will benefit you, then take the time to find a dentist that offers the type of sedation you prefer.