When many people need dental treatment, they will require something to help them to relax. Some people have a great fear of the dentist and need some help to be able to sit through the treatment because of fear and anxiety. The fear can be of the dentist, the dentist’s tools, the office, or of pain (that usually is not there). The fear often comes from bad experiences with dentists at some time when they were young, or from stories they have heard.
It is important to realize that a sedative is not the same thing as anesthesia. A sedative will not block pain and patients will still need to be given anesthesia.
In order to help patients who would otherwise stay away and not get the treatment they need, the dentist can help you with different types of conscious sedation. These range from mild (laughing gas) to a sedative where you are almost put to sleep – but not quite. There are four types of sedation dentistry.
This mild sedative is nitrous oxide. It is a gas that is colorless and odorless. It is breathed in through a mask over the nose and it will take effect rather quickly. The gas is not intended to be strong enough to make you sleep when it is used. Patients sedated with the gas are still able to answer questions or make a request.
Nitrous oxide gives people a pleasant sensation (euphoria, possibly giddy) which helps them to feel comfortable. It relieves stress and enables patients to overcome their fear and let the dentist perform the needed work.
Laughing gas is safe for children. It is widely used in dentistry with people of all ages and very few people report having any negative effects from it. Some problems can occur if the concentration of gas is too high or if patients breathe it in too fast. If there are any problems, they will generally go away very quickly with oxygen.
When the dental treatment is completed, the dentist only needs to turn off the gas and give the patient pure oxygen. This will clear the brain and lungs of the gas in about five minutes. After about 15 minutes, the patient should have enough clarity and motor skills to be able to drive home.
Overall, nitrous oxide is considered to be a very safe method of sedation. Sometimes, it may be combined with medication to provide a stronger effect. Champion Dental provides laughing gas for people of all ages when a mild sedative is needed.
Oral sedatives are the most widely used form of sedatives. They are inexpensive and require no special equipment to take the pills. Taken as directed by the dentist, you will find that they can help you to become quite relaxed during dental treatment. You will remain awake but will feel sleepy.
The most common types of pills offered are benzodiazepines, including Valium, Halcion, and Ativan. Non-benzodiazepines include Sonata and Ambien. These oral sedatives will offer differing amounts of benefits when it comes to relieving anxiety because everyone’s body is different.
Patients will be given the medication before their appointment. One medication needs to be taken the night before the appointment, and the other one will be taken about an hour before the appointment. It will take about an hour to take full effect. Patients will need a driver to take them to and from the dental office and should not take public transportation.
After the treatment, the patient will continue to feel the effects of the medication for a few hours. On arrival at home, they need to relax and should be supervised. An added benefit of this type of sedation is that you will probably remember very little about the treatment.
Certain medical conditions may make this form of sedation dangerous. It is not recommended for pregnant women, for those who are addicted to drugs, or who have various other health conditions. It is important to be honest with the dentist about medical conditions because interactions could cause serious problems.
For people who are even more fearful of going to a dentist for treatment, IV sedation may be the solution you need. This form of sedation is given through an IV in the arm. It has the advantage of being able to be adjusted quickly – one way or the other. It can also take effect quickly.
Although an IV is the same technique that is used in general anesthesia, you will still be conscious. You will be so relaxed and without fear that even if you are afraid of needles, you will not care when the dentist has to inject the anesthesia.
You will probably go to sleep – but not completely. You will be awake enough to follow basic commands or to respond if the dentist touches you. You will be able to breathe on your own. There will not be any need to wear a heart monitor. This type of anesthesia is excellent if you need long dental procedures or if there will be more than one procedure at the same time.
As the treatment is being given, you will be largely unaware of what is happening even though you are not completely asleep. If you fall asleep, you can be woken easily. The medications used will also help you not to remember much – if any – of your visit to the dentist.
Once the treatment is completed, you will need time to recover. The drugs are still in your system and will have an effect for several hours, but it will not be as severe after about an hour.
Deep sedation is an even deeper state of relaxation. It is given through an IV and can be maintained as long as necessary. It is just above the level of general anesthesia but patients will be generally asleep – not quite unconscious. If the stimulation is repeated and painful, they can be aroused – which will not occur under general anesthesia. It will also not have the same side effects that may occur with general anesthesia.
Patients will be almost completely unresponsive to any kind of stimulation. They also will not remember anything about the procedure or have any pain. Nor can they answer any questions. It is the ideal level of sedation when prolonged or multiple procedures need to be performed on a patient.
This type of sedation can only be administered by surgeons with the right training and license. Special drugs and equipment have to be maintained on the premises to ensure safety in the event of an emergency. You will be monitored in some ways while sedated to ensure that you are getting enough oxygen and enough air. Your pulse will also be monitored.
After the dental surgery, you will need someone to drive you home. They will also need to stay with you for 24 hours just to be sure there are no complications. Once home, you will likely need to rest and should not engage in many activities. You may need help performing some activities. The effects of deep sedation will usually completely wear off within 24 hours.
At Champion Dental, we can provide the types of sedation you need to make you feel relaxed and comfortable. We understand that some people may be afraid to come for dental treatments but our friendly dentists, along with the right kind of sedation, can help you get the treatment you need.
The dentists at Champion Dental are qualified to give you the type of sedation you need. We want to help you relax and take away the fear. You can set up a consultation or get more information about conscious sedation or sleep dentistry by contacting our office today.