For the thousands of Americans who experience anxiety while in the dentist chair, sedation dentistry removes these fears. This practice uses medication to provide different levels of relaxation depending on the procedure at hand. Here are the main types of sedation used for this dental specialty.
Spectrum_family_dentistry_raleighMinimal sedation, an awake but relaxed state, is achieved through the administration of nitrous oxide. Also known as laughing gas, this substance is given along with oxygen through a mask placed over the nose. The dentist can control the amount of sedation, and the effect wears off quickly when the mask is removed. With this form of sedation, clients can drive themselves home following the procedure.
Oral sedation can range from minimal, in which the patient is awake and aware, to moderate sedation, in which the patient may not remember the procedure. Minimal oral sedation uses a pill called Halcion, related to Valium, taken an hour before the procedure. A small dosage will provide the desired awake-but-drowsy effect. For moderate sedation, a larger dose is given; patients under moderate oral sedation may fall asleep during the procedure.
This form of moderate sedation is administered intravenously, with the dentist continually adjusting the dose for optimal effect.
Deep sedation means that the patient is deeply asleep but can be shaken awake, while patients under general anesthesia are completely unconscious. The latter type of anesthesia lasts until the medication wears off or reversal medication is given.
The type of sedation is determined by the dentist depending on the type of procedure, the person’s general health, his or her fear level, and other factors. In all cases, the sedation is combined with a local anesthetic that numbs the surgical site. Use of sedation during dentistry is carefully regulated to ensure patient safety.