In Address The Dental Anxiety With Sedation Dentistry
Because our family has been taking care of people’s teeth since 1922, the date our grandfather started his dental practice in Milwaukee, we know all about dental anxiety. For some, the thought of a trip to the dentist can create dread akin to sitting in the theater at the latest horror movie. There’s no explaining it — it could be the sound of a drill, the pulling down of the hanging dental light, maybe even the overall smell of the office — but the fear is real. At Hampton Dental Associates, we treat our patients like our family, so we do everything we can to make you feel at ease in our offices. To that end, we offer sedation dentistry.
What is Sedation Dentistry?
Sedation dentistry involves the use of medications to keep patients relaxed during dental procedures. Sedation dentistry doesn’t really include general anesthesia (although it is a level of sedation) because in sedation dentistry patients are usually awake and able to respond to requests from the dentist. The sedation simply allows the patient to relax and overcome his or her anxiety.
What are the levels of sedation?
There are four levels of sedation:
When under minimal sedation, you are awake but relaxed. Your dentist can induce minimal sedation through the inhalation of nitrous oxide or “laughing gas”. This is done with a mask placed over the patient’s face. The patient may also elect to for oral sedation with a pill, usually Halcion, a drug in the same drug family as Valium.
Also called “conscious sedation,” you may slur your words when talking and not remember most of what occurred during the procedure. Your dentist can induce this level of sedation with a pill as well.
While in deep sedation, you will be on the edge of consciousness but your dentist can still awake you. Your dentist will likely use and IV to achieve this level of sedation. This allows the dentist to continuously adjust your level of sedation.
You’re completely unconscious. Your dentist will also administer general anesthesia intravenously.
What types of sedation are used?
Inhaled minimal sedation involves breathing nitrous oxide, also known as “laughing gas,” to help the patient relax. The patient uses a mask placed over the nose to breath a mixture of nitrous oxide is combined with oxygen. After the procedure, the gas wears off quickly. The patient usually can drive home following the procedure.
Oral sedation can be minimal to moderate. The patient takes a pill (usually Halcion, in the same drug family as Valium) usually about 30 minutes before the procedure. The pill makes the patient drowsy. Oral sedation is most commonly associated with sedation dentistry.
IV sedation works more quickly as the sedative drug if your dentist administers it through a vein. The method allows the dentist to adjust sedation levels continually.
Deep sedation and general anesthesia are delivered intravenously, as well. A patient under general anesthesia cannot be awakened easily until the anesthesia wears off or is reversed using a different medication.
We use sedation with medication and nitrous oxide at Hampton Dental Associates and for more complex surgeries we refer to our specialists when I.V. sedation is required.
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