Sedation Alternatives

Some confusion exists as to what exactly a sedation dentist does. Most people think that this type of dentistry involves taking some sort of medication that will make you fall asleep while you are at the dentist. In fact, there are multiple types of sedation and the majority of them don’t involve the patient being asleep. In order to understand what type of sedation might be used during your procedure you will want to consult with a dentist in your area. Visiting a “sleep dentist” is the best way to know and understand if you will even require sedation or if you have an underlying fear of dentistry how to overcome your fear with the use of proper sedation. Some of the alternatives to full sedation might surprise you.

Sedation Types

  • Oral Conscious Sedation – This method of sedation is exactly what it sounds like. The patient takes a pill before the dental treatment and the patient becomes sleepy, but does not actually fall asleep. During the dental treatment the patient is practically unaware of what is going on. This effect can last for hours.
  • Local Anesthesia – This is the most frequent type of treatment that a sedation dentist will use. Chances are you have had this type of treatment. It includes the dentist using some sort of swab to numb a small area. In the small area a needle will then be injected to numb a larger area. The larger area is hopefully the place where the dentist will be working.
  • Intramuscular Sedation – With this form of treatment, the sedation dentist injects the sedative drug into the upper arm or thigh. This may be a good alternative for those who don’t like a needle being stuck in their mouth.
  • Nitrous Oxide “Laughing Gas” – This is probably the most infamous of the sedation techniques used in dentistry. Nitrous oxide is inhaled and then it has an exhilarating effect on the patient. One of the main benefits of using laughing gas is that it takes effect almost immediately (sometimes within 30 seconds). Another benefit of laughing gas is that after the treatment, the patient is usually able to leave by themselves with minimal side effects.
  • General Anesthesia – This is probably what most people think about when they think about sedation dentistry. With general anesthesia the patient is fully asleep during the treatment. One of the downsides of general anesthesia is that the patient will most likely be unable to leave the dental office for 2-4 hours.
  • Intravenous Sedation – Perhaps one of the more interesting methods of sedation; intravenous sedation leaves the patient thinking that they are asleep. The patient is, however, in a conscious state. The patient does not recall any of what actually happened during the dental treatment. Hopefully this list of sedation techniques will help you to find a good solution when you are searching for a positive dental experience. This information in no way precludes talking to an actual sedation dentist. This list will hopefully guide your questions and help you enjoy visiting the dentist more often.

What you can expect from the sedation itself

There may be reason for your dentist to check your overall health before heading into significant sedation.  This will protect your health during the procedure and will allow the dentist insight into any unforeseen problems with your overall health.  Your dentist may ask for a list of any medications that you are currently using as well as any medical procedures that you have recently undergone, or if you are in the constant care of a physician.  This information might be helpful for your dentist to anticipate any foreseeable problems with your procedure.  Things that may seem insignificant are still important to tell your dental care provider.  You will likely have a consultation or visit to go over and prepare for the procedure as well as.  This consultation will include an examination to ensure that there are no changes in the structure of the teeth or mouth, or no other problems that were not noticed beforehand.  This will help ensure the overall health of your mouth before and after the procedure.

Prepare for The Procedure

It is very important to prepare for your procedure the exact way that you dentist prescribes.  There is a possibility that he or she might ask you to stop eating or drinking up to 12 hours before your procedure.  This will help with the way that the anesthetic works within your body.  Depending on the type of procedure you may want to purchase any medications or pain relievers suggested by your dentist beforehand.  If you are receiving any anesthesia that will have you sleep you may need to have another person either friend of family member accompany you to the appointment and then drive you back home.  This is to ensure your safety and prevent you from operating any machinery that would pose an immediate danger.  After sedation you will likely feel sleepy and out of sorts.  Having a home that is prepared for you to come home to and do minimal work is a great way to prepare for your procedure.  Remember if you are receiving sedation, you should ask your dentist how long you should feel the effects and anything out of the ordinary reported to the dental team immediately.