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You can say it, don’t be embarrassed. You may like your dentist a lot but still, work yourself into a frenzy before visits. Things will be done there that you’d just as soon not know about. Enter sedation dentistry, the modern practice that accepts that you’re a fraidy cat. You don’t want to know the details and would much rather be asleep.

Children’s dental visits can also be quite traumatic. They don’t know what to expect. Nothing anyone can say or do makes them feel any better. Sedation dentistry uses mild sedatives (calming drugs) to manage special needs or anxiety while your child receives dental care. It may also be used when several procedures need to be done at once; when a child’s safety is in question, or if the child has a strong “gag” reflex.

The Trifecta of Sedation Dentistry

Depending on the procedure and the patient’s level of anxiety, dentists will offer or suggest one of the three options.

  • Laughing Gas. Also known as Nitrous Oxide or NO2, laughing gas is an easy, safe option administered with a mask. The gas’s effects wear off 5 minutes after the administration has ceased, and patients awake fully alert without drowsiness.
  • Oral sedation with pills. Administered through prescription medication. Valium or Halcion take the edge off. As these prescribed medications can make an individual very calm and incredibly relaxed, many patients end up falling asleep and napping while the dental work is performed.
  • IV Sedation. For patients who wish to be completely asleep for their procedures, IV sedation is the truest form of sleep dentistry. Patients are closely monitored throughout for any ill effects. Those with heart or breathing conditions should consult their doctors before receiving sedation dentistry.

Levels of Sedation

The needed level of sedation will vary depending on the patient.

  • Minimal sedation keeps the patient relaxed, but they are still conscious and responsive.
  • Moderate sedation or conscious sedation puts the patient in a deeper state of relaxation, wherein they might slur their words.
  • Deep sedation puts people “out,” but they can awaken easily.
  • General anesthesia puts the patient in a completely unconscious state.
  • Inhaled minimal sedation is achieved through the inhalation of nitrous oxide or laughing gas.
  • Oral sedation can range from minimal to moderate in strength. For minimal sedation, the patient will take a pill about an hour before the procedure. A larger dose is given to produce a moderate sedation effect.
  • IV moderate sedation is administered through an intravenous needle into a vein in the patient’s arm.
  • Deep sedation and general anesthesia use different medications to render the patient unconscious. The practice is rare in general dentistry.

How Safe is Sedation Dentistry?

As with many things in life, no medical professional can say with absolute certainty that there is no risk involved when using anesthesia. It is a tried and tested practice proven safe when administered by qualified professionals.

The Douglas Family Dentistry Experience

Do you live in Phoenix, Scottsdale, or the surrounding communities? If so, Douglas Family Dentistry offers a friendly, professional environment for patients from kids to adults and seniors. Call us at 480-948-3680 or go to our website to schedule an appointment and discover the best in family dentistry.