Let’s face it: dental visits are not exactly a favorite activity for most people, and that’s understandable. However, dental phobia or anxiety can keep some patients from visiting the dentist for years until major problems develop. Even then, deep-seated fears from past dental experiences can prevent people from seeking the help they increasingly need. To address these concerns, our Fort Worth dentists offer multiple types of sedation for a more pleasant and relaxing experience. If you or a loved one has avoided dental work in the past, see how our sedation dentistry techniques can provide an answer.
What Is Sedation Dentistry?
Through sedation, patients enter a state of mental and physical relaxation. Any previous anxiety, fear, or emotional unrest dissipates as the patient becomes more receptive to treatment. At the same time, the body is less receptive to pain and irritability, making procedures more comfortable overall. In many cases, sedation is used in tandem with anesthesia, allowing patients to undergo oral surgery with virtually no pain or discomfort. Even for less invasive procedures, sedation alone can be a highly effective way to improve the dental experience. Depending on a patient’s needs, sedatives can be administered in one of three ways: orally, intravenously, or through inhalation.
Oral Conscious Sedation
Oral sedation is one of the best ways to prepare a patient for surgery or to ease an anxious patient’s nerves. By taking a pill an hour before the procedure, patients will gradually slip into a state of conscious sedation, also called twilight sedation. In this state, patients will remain conscious to the point where they can respond to questions and express their concerns, but will feel completely tranquil, almost as if asleep. When combined with a local anesthetic (administered during the effects of sedation), physical discomfort can also be avoided during the procedure. As the effects subside, patients will feel as if they are waking up from sleep. In most cases, they will not even remember the treatment.
The effects of IV sedation are almost identical to oral conscious sedation, but rather than taking a pill and waiting, patients can feel the effects more immediately by taking the sedative intravenously. In addition to the quickened onset of sedation, patients also benefit from their dentist having direct control over the level of sedation. If someone expresses discomfort during the procedure, sedation can be increased as needed; if sedation seems too powerful at first, it can be reduced. By using an IV, your dentist can directly monitor and respond to the effects sedation has on you, ultimately ensuring the safest and most comfortable experience possible.
Also called laughing gas, nitrous oxide is an alternative method of sedation that is inhaled through a mask. Unlike oral or IV sedation, nitrous oxide allows patients to retain a much sharper state of awareness. Although some patients may feel tired, nitrous oxide mainly induces giddiness and physically numbed senses. In essence, it can greatly increase one’s receptiveness to and satisfaction with dental treatment. Patients who would be otherwise averse to needles can far more easily receive anesthesia while under the effects of nitrous oxide, making it an easy and often enjoyable way to receive treatment. Moreover, nitrous oxide does not leave patients with lingering fatigue or side effects, and is one of the safest methods of sedation.
Choosing the Right Sedation Technique
When treating dental anxiety with sedation, it is important to ensure that the method of sedation is equally appropriate:
- For patients who are normally opposed to injections, oral conscious sedation and nitrous oxide are good options. Even if local anesthesia is still needed, patients tend to have little problem with needles while sedated.
- For more invasive or complex oral surgery, oral or IV sedation are generally recommended, as they keep patients more relaxed and less likely to experience any discomfort.
- For patients with certain risk factors, such as systemic disease, select medications, and abnormal blood pressure, nitrous oxide may be a safer alternative.
Before coming in for treatment, speak with your dentist about what you can expect from each method of sedation. With the right knowledge of your medical history and dental needs, you can overcome your fears at no additional risk to your health.
Learn More about Sedation Dentistry
Our cosmetic dentistry clinic is devoted to your satisfaction as much as the health of your teeth. Regardless of your prior dental history, we will strive to provide you with a satisfying experience that paves the way for more positive experiences in the future. Give us a call to learn more or schedule a consultation.