A significant number of people do not visit the dentist for regular checkups because they are too fearful or suffer from dental anxiety. Sedation dentistry offers an excellent way to enable a dental experience for those who are afraid of the dentist.

Sedation dentistry is often mistakenly thought to induce sleep. In fact, most sedatives allow the patient to stay awake during the procedure. Sleepiness is a side effect of some medications, but using nitrous oxide and/or oral conscious sedation works to calm anxiety throughout the dental visit and allows the team to maintain a relaxed conversation with the patient.

Sedation dentistry is popular because most sedatives can be taken by mouth, meaning no anxiety and no pain. Some work so effectively that even the smells and details of the procedure cannot be recalled afterwards. Safety and compliance are two important aspects of treatments, so sedation dentistry offers both the individual and the dentist the best alternative.

What kinds of sedatives are available?

The most popular types of dental sedatives are nitrous oxide (inhaled anesthesia), oral conscious sedation, and IV sedation and the approach is customized to individual needs. Different levels of sedation (mild, moderate and deep) can be utilized depending on individual needs. We must analyze the full medical history of the patient, taking note of any current medications, and decide together what the best approach will be.

Oral Conscious Sedation

Oral conscious sedation is an excellent choice for people who fear needles and it is often used in combination with inhalation anesthesia. Oral medication is provided prior to treatment in order to induce a moderate state of sedation. Though oral sedatives do not cause sleep, they usually dull the senses. This means that most patients cannot remember the pain, smells or noises associated with the procedure.

What types of drugs are used in oral conscious sedation?

Most of the drugs used in sedation dentistry are classified as benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines reduce anxiety, muscle spasms, insomnia and seizures. Each medication has a different half-life, meaning that the effects last for varying amounts of time. The estimated length of the procedure determines which type of drug is going to be most effective.

If you have questions or concerns about sedation dentistry, please contact our office.

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