Visiting the dentist is a necessary part of life, but for some, these visits have the potential to be anxiety-provoking and even traumatic. At Fraserview Dentist, we address these fears by offering our patients a comfortable setting, a calm and communicative dental team, and if needed dental sedation options. These dental sedation options are tailored to help patients relax and get comfortable during procedures, from mild teeth cleanings to root canals, extractions, and dental implants. Offering a variety of dental sedation options, allows us to give just the right amount of help that each patient requires and requests.
About Dental Sedation
Dental sedation comes in a variety of forms and sedation levels, allowing it to be tailored to the needs of the dental professionals, as well as the comfort level of the patient. From very mild sedation in which you’re relaxed but lucid, to moderate sedation which leaves you feeling half-asleep. Dental sedation offers a reprieve for patients who get anxiety before dental procedures. You’ll see this kind of dentistry advertised as “sleep dentistry”, and many dentist offices suggest it for nervous patients.
Patients often receive dental sedation for:
- Getting procedures done under time constraints.
- Treating anxiety that has prevented a dentist visit in the past.
- Discomfort or inconvenience due to multiple visits.
Some people are so terrified of the dentist, they allow tooth pain to endure and cavities to grow rather than visiting a dental professional. Dental sedation allows these people to receive the care they need without provoking anxiety or distress. Whether you have mild anxiety or total fear of the dentist, one of our dental sedation solutions can help, just contact us and we’ll walk through the process, and your fears with you.
One mild form of dental sedation is oral sedation. This option diminishes pain and reduces anxiety, though you are not sedated to the point of unconsciousness.
Oral sedation comes in a pill or tablet which you’ll either swallow or dissolve under your tongue. Depending on the desired effect, sedation could be extremely mild (where you’re relaxed but conscious) to moderate (you’re conscious but might slur words and probably won’t remember the procedure very well or at all).
Usually, you take one of two pills, both of which are in the class of benzodiazepines. One, called Ativan© (generic name: lorazepam), is taken about an hour before your procedure begins. The other, called Halcion© (generic name: triazolam) has one of the shortest onset and duration of action in the category and is taken roughly 30 minutes before your procedure. The drugs are designed to cause drowsiness and fight insomnia. Some patients are able to fall asleep under this kind of sedation, but you can still be gently shaken awake if need be.
Nitrous Oxide (Laughing Gas)
People readily associate laughing gas with having dental procedures done. You breathe the nitrous oxide through your nose, and the effects happen immediately. Nitrous oxide sedates you minimally by relaxing you without making you drowsy. You’ll be awake during your procedure and able to respond to any commands. Some people feel like their limbs are tingly or heavy while breathing laughing gas.
Our dentist directly controls how much laughing gas you’re receiving, allowing an experience tailored to your needs and comfort level. As soon as you take off the mask, the effects of nitrous oxide wear off. Laughing gas is the only sedation option that leaves you fit to drive yourself home after a dental procedure.
Though we no longer provide IV sedation at our office (due to lack of demand from our patients), we can always refer you to an appropriate provider if it is desired. We encourage you to come talk to us and see what level of sedation is appropriate for you. Oftentimes, we find that high-fear patients who come in thinking IV sedation is the only option for them, find themselves happily surprised with the results of oral sedation and appreciative of the other benefits oral sedation offers over IV.
The IV sedation you receive at the dentist is called “conscious sedation.” You don’t fall completely unconscious, but instead enter an extremely relaxed state during which you’re partially asleep. The dentist can still wake you up easily if the need arises, but your anxiety will be greatly reduced and you won’t remember much or any of the procedure afterward.
Conscious sedation differs significantly from general anesthesia. People who undergo general anesthesia need assistance with breathing, and cannot be awoken. General anesthesia allows surgeons to perform extremely painful and invasive procedures on patients, but it’s riskier than conscious sedation. Thankfully, dental procedures that require IV sedation only need you to enter that conscious sedation state, nothing more. If you do require a deeper level of sedation for a dental procedure, you’ll go to the hospital for the procedure.
A small IV catheter will be placed in one of your veins, through which you’ll receive the sedative. In most cases you’ll receive a benzodiazepine drug. However, your dentist will review your medical history and determine the right sedative for your case. Midazolam and Lorazepam are two common IV sedatives used in dental sedation.
You will need to take more care preparing for your appointment when undergoing IV sedation. For instance, you need someone to drive you to and from your appointment. You shouldn’t wear contact lenses or restrictive clothing, and you may not be able to eat or drink the morning before your appointment.
Talk to us about the sedation options available to you. Anxiety about visiting the dentist is difficult to handle, but does not need to impede you from visiting the dentist to get the tooth care you need. Don’t ignore tooth problems and avoid the dentist when you have plenty of options available to you. Call us!