Sedation dentistry usually refers to the use of pharmaceuticals to relax a patient prior to or during a dental appointment. Relaxation dentistry on the other hand refers to non-pharmacological agents such as acupuncture, aromatherapy, visual and aural stimulation to reduce anxiety prior to and during dental procedures. These relaxing alternatives are generally for patients with drug sensitivity or for those whose dental anxiety is less severe.
Why use sedation dentistry?
Going to the dentist is one of the most anxiety causing forms of medical treatment for most people. In fact millions of people avoid seeking regular (or emergency) dental care because they fear the dentist. We Dental specialists recognize this problem and have developed a number of solutions to help our patients feel more relaxed so that we can bring out your best smile.
What kinds of sedatives are available?
The most common dental sedatives are nitrous oxide, oral conscious sedation, and IV sedation, and different levels of sedation (mild, moderate and deep) can be utilized depending on individual needs. Before administering any sedative, your dentist must know your full medical history, as well having a list of all current medications.
Common types of dental sedatives include:
Nitrous Oxide - Nitrous oxide, or “laughing gas,” is used as a mild sedative. It is delivered through a nose hood, and is administered throughout the entire procedure. Nitrous oxide elevates the general mood and can evoke a general sense of well-being. Most importantly, it relieves anxiety and reduces pain during the procedure. In addition, some tingling and numbness may be felt. There are few side effects associated with nitrous oxide, and it has been safely used in dentistry for many years.
IV Sedation - Intravenous sedation is a moderate type of sedation. Patients who have previously experienced IV sedation often report feeling like they slept through the entire procedure. Generally, IV sedation is used for shorter treatments. It is administered via direct injection into the bloodstream, which means the effects are immediate. Sometimes patients feel groggy and sleepy when the IV sedatives are withdrawn.
Oral Conscious Sedation - Oral conscious sedation is an excellent choice for people who fear needles. Oral medication is provided prior to treatment in order to induce a moderate state of sedation. Though oral sedatives do not cause sleep, they usually dull the senses, causing a patient to feel more like they are in a “twilight” state. A dose of the oral medication is taken just prior to the appointment, and again during the procedure as required.
What types of drugs are used in oral conscious sedation?
Most of the drugs used in sedation dentistry are classified as benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines reduce anxiety, muscle spasms, insomnia and seizures. Each medication has a different half-life, meaning that the effects last for varying amounts of time. The estimated length of the procedure determines which type of drug is going to be most effective.
Some of the most common drugs used in oral conscious sedation are:
Valium® – This sedative has amnesic properties and a long half-life. It is usually used for time-consuming, complex procedures.
Halcion® – Usually used to treat insomnia, Halcion is an effective sedative with amnesic properties. A short half-life makes this sedative useful for shorter procedures.
Ativan® – This sedative is best known for reducing anxiety. It has amnesic properties and a medium half-life. Ativan is typically used for treatments shorter than two hours.
Versed® – This sedative has the shortest half-life and is therefore less commonly used. It alleviates anxiety in much the same way as nitrous oxide, and is used for visits that will take less than 30 minutes.
What procedures are eligible for sedation dentistry?
Here at Allure Dental Specialists we provide IV Sedation dentistry for all procedures, from routine cleanings and checkups to extensive surgical therapy. We know that calm, relaxed patient makes for easier and faster procedures. If you don’t think you need or want sedation for a procedure we offer several relaxation options including noise reduction headphones playing your favorite Pandora station, your own personal television equipped with Netflix and a calm, relaxing atmosphere. Call us and make your next appointment today!