For patients experiencing a great deal of anxiety relating to dental procedures, there are several options to consider today to assist in completing your dental work in a relaxed manner.
Nitrous Oxide Sedation – Also known as "laughing gas", nitrous oxide helps many patients to feel more relaxed during their required dental procedures. A small rubber covering is placed over the nose that is connected to a line for nitrous oxide and oxygen to be supplied for inhalation. The combination of these gases provide a relaxed feeling, and may lead to other side effects such as tingling in the hands & feet, a floating sensation and decreased sensitivity to pain or stimulus. While you are still awake for your dental care, you will tend to not be as concerned about it. Nitrous oxide is particularly helpful for small children during their first dental procedures involving local anesthesia or a "shot". It also helps patients feel more relaxed around the drill noises associated with repairing cavities.
Oral Sedation – Medicine for adults, such as Valium, can be given prior to a dental appointment. Medicine for children, such as Versed, can be given at the beginning of a dental appointment. These medicines can induce a feeling of sleepiness and may allow a patient to become forgetful of what has occurred in the dental office, during the procedure. This type of sedation requires that the patient be escorted to and from their dental appointment by a designated driver and caregiver. Depending on the depth of sedation after a dental appointment, a patient may also require care at home.
IV Sedation – A deeper form of sedation can occur when an IV line is placed in a patient's arm, and medicine is given through this IV to allow a patient to feel sleepy and forgetful of the dental work that occurs. While a patient is still technically awake and able to respond to questions and commands, generally patients do not remember any of the dental work that was completed later. Patients who receive IV sedation are required to not eat or drink anything for 8 hours prior to the dental appointment. They must be escorted by a caregiver who will take them to and from the dental office, and stay with them at home while the medicine wears off. A consultation visit is required prior to any appointment involving IV sedation.
Outpatient Surgery involving General Anesthesia – The deepest sedation available is done only in a hospital or surgery center, where a trained anesthesiologist puts a patient under full sedation with a breathing tube placed. This type of sedation is generally only available to those patients that are elderly or those with certain health conditions. These conditions may include developmentally disabilities or those unable to cooperate in the general dental setting, such as small children for whom extensive work is required and cooperation is limited. All dental work is completed once a patient is fully asleep. Local anesthesia will still be used to numb the areas where dental work is required.