It is perfectly normal to have some degree of apprehension or anxiety prior to receiving dental treatment. Some people however, have a stronger feeling in this regard than others. These feelings may have been produced by a less than pleasant past experience, stories told by family or friends, or by the nature of the dental procedure itself. Dental treatment may be especially frightening to young children and patients with developmental disabilities.
Whatever the cause, apprehension or anxiety , can produce many unpleasant effects including heart palpitations, high blood pressure, upset stomach and trouble sleeping the night before the appointment. Many highly apprehensive patients avoid dental care for many years until their problems become so severe that they are forced to seek emergency care.
Sedation and anesthesia can make practically all dental and oral surgery procedures more pleasant and safer for the apprehensive patient.
When administering intravenous (I.V.) sedation, anti-anxiety and anesthesia medications are delivered directly into the bloodstream in a exact and measured manner. Within just seconds, you will feel completely at ease, then you will fall asleep for the duration of the dental treatment. Upon completion you will be woken back up with no recollection of the treatment itself. Depending on the depth of the sedation or anesthesia being used, as well as your own medical condition, various monitors will be used during your procedure to ensure your safety. Additionally, to ensure your safety, it is required that somebody drive you to and from your I.V. sedation appointment and remain with you for 24 hours post-treatment. You will receive further instructions at your consultation visit and it is important that you follow them before, during and after the appointment.
Nitrous Oxide Sedation
Nitrous oxide, more commonly known as “laughing gas”, is the most common method of sedation provided by dentists. A lightweight and comfortable nasal mask is worn and a mixture of oxygen and nitrous oxide is administered. You will be aware of the treatment rendered by either the dentist or the hygienist and you will be able to respond and communicate, but you will be relaxed by the warm and comfortable feeling the gas emits.
One of the many reasons nitrous is so widely used is it’s reversible nature. This is because nitrous oxide is not metabolized by the body, but rather it is breathed out the same way it is breathed in. This allows it to take effect quickly and allows the effects to dissipate quickly, making it the simplest method of sedation with virtually no recovery time needed. Nitrous sedation can also be effective in reducing or even eliminating gagging during treatment in patients who struggle with this issue.
Oral Conscious Sedation
Oral conscious sedation is administered by providing an oral medication before treatment under nitrous sedation. With the additional effect of the oral medication, you will experience little to no anxiety during treatment and afterwards you will feel like you experienced a nice rest. Unlike nitrous sedation, oral conscious sedation requires that someone drive you to and from your dental appointment. At your comprehensive evaluation, your doctor will sit down and review your medical history, as well as consider the time needed for treatment to determine what or medication might be best for you specifically. You will be provided with any instructions necessary before even scheduling the appointment for treatment.