We know that tolerating a toothache can sometimes seem better than ever going to the dentist.
If this sounds like you, than sedation dentistry may be the answer. Sedation can take away some of the anxiety for everything from invasive procedures to a simple tooth cleaning. How it’s used depends on the severity of the fear.
Sedation dentistry uses medication to help patients relax during dental procedures. There are many levels of sedation used in dentistry, some of these include:
- Inhaled sedation – You breathe nitrous oxide, or “laughing gas”, combined with oxygen through a mask that’s placed over your nose to help you relax. Your dentist can control the amount of sedation you receive, and the gas tends to wear off quickly. This is the only form of sedation where you may be able to drive yourself home after the procedure.
- Oral sedation – Depending on the total dose given, oral sedation dentistry can range from minimal to moderate. For minimal sedation, you take a “Happy pill”, typically, this pill is a member of the same drug family as Valium, and it’s usually taken about an hour before the procedure. The pill will make you drowsy, although you’ll still be awake. A larger dose may be given to produce moderate sedation. This is the type of anesthesia most commonly associated with sedation dentistry. Some people become groggy enough from moderate oral sedation to actually fall asleep during the procedure. They can usually be awakened with a gentle shake.
- IV moderate sedation – You receive the sedative drug through a vein, so it goes to work more quickly. This method allows the dentist to continually adjust the level of sedation.