You've been dreading that upcoming root canal, oral surgery or other dental procedure when you happen to spot an advertisement promoting sedation dentistry. Could the use of sedation help you get through such procedures more easily and comfortably? Here are four questions you can ask your dentist that will help you make the right decision.
1. Which Patients Benefit the Most from Sedation Dentistry?
Sedation dentistry is most commonly administered to patients who get extremely nervous or tense whenever they undergo dental procedures. This "dental phobia" can prevent people from getting the treatment they need, forcing them to endure ever-worsening dental pain and disease. By allowing them to stay calm in the dentist's office, sedation helps phobic individuals enjoy a higher level of dental wellness. Sedation is also good for people with unusually high pain sensitivity. Some people can't handle local anesthetics for medical reasons — in which case, dental sedation can serve as the next best thing.
2. How "Knocked Out" Will I Be Under Sedation?
Unlike the use of general anesthesia (which may be necessary for the most extensive surgeries), most forms of sedation dentistry don't aim to knock you out — merely to make you extremely relaxed. In fact, you may need to remain awake enough to answer the dentist's questions and respond to instructions during your procedure. This level of sedation is sometimes called "conscious sedation" or "twilight" sedation.
3. What Types of Sedation Can I Receive?
Your dentist may offer you a few different sedation methods to choose from. The simplest method, which the dentist performs at the time of the procedure, is nitrous oxide inhalation. You'll breathe a mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen through a mask until you reach the right degree of sedation. You may also receive an oral sedative, which you take about an hour before your appointment. You may even opt for IV sedation. In this sedation method, you receive the sedative intravenously.
4. How Should I Prepare for Sedation Dentistry?
Because sedation can let food travel upward from a relaxed stomach, you should avoid eating or drinking after midnight the night before your procedure. It's also wise to arrange for someone to transport you home, in case the sedation hasn't worn off sufficiently for you to drive yourself. If you plan on having IV sedation, wearing short sleeves to your appointment will make the process of inserting the needle that much easier for the technicians.
Sedation dentistry could make your dental visits much more relaxing occasions -- which in turn can help you relax about the state of your ongoing dental health. Call your dental office today to ask about your dental sedation options!