Sedation dentistry allows patients with dental anxiety to feel calm so they can get the dental care they need. Our dentists at Signature Smiles are highly experienced with providing oral and IV sedations to both adult and pediatric patients. Whether the individual needs a dental filling, root canal, tooth extraction, or even dental implants—we utilize only the highest quality of sedation medicine to make visiting the dentist a more relaxing experience.
What Is Sedation Dentistry?
Sedation dentistry uses medication to help patients relax during dental procedures. This can come in many forms, such as by taking a pill, inhaling nitrous oxide, or receiving an IV. Often referred to as “sleep dentistry,” sedation dentistry can make some patients fall asleep due to being in such a relaxed state. However, patients receiving conscious sedation are usually awake.
Conscious sedation is designed to reduce dental anxiety and improve a patient’s comfort throughout their procedure. This may lead to some patients feeling tired and sluggish while they are sedated, but this effect quickly wears off after their procedure. In some cases, general anesthesia may be advised, which will cause the patient to become unconscious.
When Is Sedation Dentistry Used for Pediatric Patients?
Sedation dentistry may be needed for young patients if any of the following applies:
- Young children may not be able to remain still for the entire length of complex procedures. When these require the utmost accuracy, sedation may be needed to perform the procedure safely, reducing the risk of complications.
- Some children suffer from advanced dental anxiety. They can often benefit from sedation to help them remain calm and feel at-ease during and after treatment.
- Children with special needs can especially benefit from sedation. The medication can prevent them from making sudden movements, and it helps them remain comfortable while also improving their ability to cooperate.
What Are the Different Types of Sedation Dentistry?
Our team offers multiple sedation options, each one having unique benefits. Sedation may be helpful for adults and pediatric patients alike. The most appropriate technique will be recommended after reviewing the patient’s medical history, the length of the procedure being performed, and the severity of their anxiety prior to treatment.
At Signature Smiles, we provide multiple conscious sedation options, which allow the patient to communicate with their dentist throughout treatment. We also offer general anesthesia for patients with more advanced needs. To learn more about the different methods of sedation, read through the sections below.
Nitrous Oxide (Laughing Gas)
Laughing gas is a mild sedation technique that involves breathing nitrous oxide through a mask that is placed over the nose. This takes effect quickly, making patients feel relaxed and even happy. The sedative wears off within minutes, but before the mask is removed, the patient will inhale regular oxygen to ensure the nitrous oxide is completely removed from their body. Though rare, nitrous oxide can make some patients feel nauseous, so your dentist may advise you limit your food intake before your appointment.
Oral sedation involves taking the sedative medication through a drink or by pill. This option is available to adults as a way to help them relax during their appointment, while remaining awake and being closely monitored. Since oral sedation will cause a feeling of drowsiness, patients should arrange for someone to drop them off and pick them up from their appointment. Side effects from oral sedation dentistry are rare, but nausea is possible.
Children may be eligible for oral sedation if they are especially anxious or uncooperative for their dental care. If this technique is used for a pediatric patient, the parent may need to help prepare their child. This often includes limiting their food and drink beforehand, having them wear comfortable clothes for their visit, and supervising them for several hours afterwards.
Intravenous sedation, more commonly known as IV sedation, delivers the sedative by injecting it into a vein. Unlike oral sedation, where the patient remains conscious, the IV-sedated patient will be unconscious. They will not be aware of the dental treatment, and before they know it, the procedure is complete. Patients typically comment that with IV sedation they feel rested after their dental visit. We’ve also heard that they had the best sleep of their life.
IV sedations are available to everyone 3 years and older. IV sedation normally lasts one hour, which is the average time required to complete a dental treatment such as extraction, root canal, dental implants, and other oral surgeries.
General anesthesia is offered for putting patients into a deep sleep as they undergo certain types of dental work. While this sedation technique is not always necessary, it can be especially beneficial in the following cases:
- Pediatric patients and children who are highly anxious or too young to tolerate major dental work
- Dental implant surgery
- Tooth extractions, including wisdom tooth removal
- Endodontics (root canals)
- Periodontics (Gum Surgery)
- Oral surgery, including the drainage of large infections/cysts, special boney removal of Tori, emergency dental procedures
General anesthesia involves more preparation before the procedure, and more time is needed to recover from its effects.
For more information about sedation dentistry and which technique may be right for you, please feel free to contact us.