Sedation in dentistry is used for more than helping a patient feel like they slept through a surgery or complex dental procedure. It can also play an important role in helping patients to manage their anxiety and eliminate pain even during minor dental procedures.
The role of sedation in dentistry
If you get really worked up and nervous when heading to the dentist to get something looked after, never forget that you’re not alone. Others have been through it before and we have a variety of effective options available that can help to alleviate these unpleasant feelings whether you need a simple tooth cleaning and polish, or something more involved such as wisdom teeth removal or the filling of a cavity.
For most dental procedures, sedation can be provided by dentists equipped and trained to administer sedation. It also takes a dentist with great communication skills to quick learn and be empathetic with your anxiety, even if not outwardly stated.
Don’t let your fears about visiting the dentist hold you back. And don’t let yourself be too shy or embarrassed to have an open discussion with your dental practitioner about your anxiety before you undergo a procedure. Modern dentistry has a heavy focus on the pain-free aspect of treatment and it’s important to your dentist that your experience is a good one.
Types of sedation and pain relief
Some of the treatments used to alleviate physical discomfort do double duty as a sedative, whereas others are a one-trick-pony of sorts and only help with pain. The same principle applies to medication used primarily for their sedative properties.
If you’ve ever had a dentist swab a numbing gel on your gums, this is a mild form of anesthesia (pain relief). Medication is often administered via injection to numb the nerves that allow you feel discomfort in your teeth or gums prior to filling a cavity or undergoing other types of dental surgery. Often, the knowledge that your procedure will be pain-free is enough to calm any worries you have when you first arrive for your appointment and sedation won’t be required.
“Laughing gas” (also known as nitrous oxide) is a minimally sedating agent used to help calm nervous patients and aid in pain relief. This medication will typically leave you fully awake and able to respond to your dentist’s questions or instructions, although some people don’t remember everything that happens during their appointment after being under the effects of this medication. This medication is delivered via a breathing mask – all you have to do is breath in and out normally and you’ll soon notice the effects kicking in.
A higher degree of sedation can be achieved with prescription medications that are taken by mouth or injected intravenously. Due to their ease of administration, most people will end up using the medications taken by mouth since they’re easier to administer. As with nitrous oxide, you’ll be awake and able to respond to questions or instructions when under the effect of this type of medication.
Finally, for patients with severe anxiety or those undergoing more complex procedures, a deeper level of sedation may be required. This can be achieved via injections, medication taken by mouth, inhaled medication, or some combination of the three. If the sedation level is very deep, assistance with breathing may be needed.
If the sedative recommended by your dentist requires a prescription, you may be asked to fill it at your local pharmacy before your dental appointment.
Talk to your dentist about your sedation options
If you have a dental procedure coming up, be sure to talk to your dental practitioner about what to expect. If you’re nervous or fearful, this conversation could be enough to put an end to those worries. And if you don’t think you can handle your nervousness or fears on your own, be sure to ask your dentist what they can do to help you alleviate them so you have as good an experience as possible.
If you’re in the Oakville, Milton or Burlington area and would like to visit Reflections Dental, we can talk about sedation and how we can make you comfortable for dental procedures! (Our spa like setting helps, too!).