I keep hearing that dental sedation is a good solution for patients who have a lot of fear. However, when I look into it, there seem to be several different types. Is there much difference between them? If so, how do I know which one is best for me? Can you use it for anything dental or just for “big” procedures?
You’re absolutely correct about dental sedation helping people with dental fear. In fact, for many, it has transformed their lives. You’re also right that there are several different types of sedation. They are used for different levels of anxiety and purposes.
Sedation Level One: Nitrous Oxide
This is used for mild anxiety and used to be dubbed laughing gas. Using a nosepiece, similar to the one pictured above, you’ll be given a nitrous solution which will relax you and put you at ease. It has three major benefits.
First, because you’re more at ease, it makes your appointments more pleasant for you. Second, lowering your level of anxiety makes your local anesthetic more effective (if you need one). Many people don’t realize that anxiety causes your metabolism to burn off the anesthetic more quickly. Third, it’s only effective while receiving the solution.
When your procedure is done, they switch the solution to more oxygen and you’re perfectly capable of getting on with your day as normal. No missed days at work or delay of other important responsibilities. If you’re just needing a cleaning, this would be what I’d start with to see if it’s enough.
However, if your anxiety is extremely high or you are going in for a more invasive procedure, you may want to consider the next level of sedation.
Sedation Level Two: Oral Conscious Sedation
This is just a pill you will take before your appointment. However, it’s so strong you’ll need someone to drive you to and from your appointment, as well as stay with you at home until you’re lucid. The biggest benefit of this is its strength.
You’ll be conscious and can communicate but you’ll be absolutely and completely relaxed, giving you a pain-free appointment. Truthfully, most people just sleep through the appointment entirely.
It does require a prior consultation with the dentist to go over any medications you are taking, as well as any medical conditions you have. This is for your protection so the dentist doesn’t give you anything which will interfere with your current health regimen.
What Do You Need in a Sedation Dentist?
You don’t want an impatient dentist who uses sedation to not have to deal with patients. You want someone who desires to help fearful patients. These dentists are gentle and patient; always willing to take the time to answer any questions you have and pause when you are overwhelmed.
DOCS is the Dental Organization for Conscious Sedation. Dentists who’ve been certified have the training to keep you perfectly safe during your appointment and know the emergency protocols if something unexpected were to happen. Make sure your dentist is DOCS certified before scheduling your appointment.
Benefits of Sedation
You’ll be able to have anxiety-free appointments which allow you to get your dental care caught up and back on track. If you need a lot of work, using Oral Conscious Sedation allows you to get more work done at each appointment. In turn, having healthy teeth and gums gives you far more choices for your smile. Now, if you desired, you could get your teeth whitened or even a smile makeover! That’s never required, of course, but it’s great to have more options available.
This blog is brought to you by Hilton Head Accredited Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Bonnie Rothwell.