If you’re nervous about a trip to the dentist, you’re not alone! However, lots of people are just as frightened by the thought of being sedated as they are of being in pain.
So, what exactly does sedation dentistry entail?
The goal of sedation dentistry is to create pain-free dentistry. There are several different sedation methods that can be used, and they all provide different levels of sedation.
Here’s what you need to know about each one:
1. Local anesthesia
You’re probably familiar with this one because it’s the most common type of sedation. Local anesthesia consists of a local injection that numbs one particular area. If you’ve ever had a tooth removed or a cavity filled, you’ve had a local anesthetic.
2. Inhalation and oral sedatives
Dentists administer these sedatives when they want to create something called “anxiolysis”. Basically, that means you’ll be in a drug-induced state, but you’ll still be able to respond to verbal commands and a light touch.
Luckily, these sedatives don’t require any needles! Instead, you may breathe gas (like Nitrous Oxide, or “laughing gas”) through a mask. The gas is carefully administered in safe quantities so that your dentist can get a level of sedation that’s just right. You may only be minimally sedated, or if the procedure is more complex, you may go completely unconscious.
If you’re awake, you’ll be very drowsy. You’ll be able to nod your head and mumble a little, but that’s about it. In some cases, dentists may have to give you something to help you breathe. And, when all is said and done, you’ll need someone to drive you home!
3. Conscious intravenous sedation
As the name suggests, this type of sedation dentistry involves using a needle to inject anesthetic right into your bloodstream. This creates deeper sedation than the two techniques we’ve already talked about. In fact, you probably won’t remember a single thing about your procedure after it’s finished!
4. General anesthesia
This type of pain-free dentistry involves complete unconsciousness. Typically, your dentist will use a combination of intravenous and inhalation anesthetics, and you won’t be able to respond to anything until your dentist uses something else to wake you up. Because this type of sedation is so complex, your dentist will need an anesthetist on hand to administer it.
So, which type is right for you?
Your dentist will have an idea as to which one is best but be sure to chime in if you’ve ever had a bad reaction to sedation before. You’ll also need to mention if you have any allergies or health problems (especially in the heart, liver, or kidneys) that could complicate things.