Dentist examining female's teeth in dentistry

Which Type of Sedation Dentistry is Right for You?

Is your anxiety the one thing standing between you and the smile of your dreams?

You’ve probably wished for a way to be sedated during the procedure so that you could feel a little more relaxed about visiting the dentist.

This is entirely possible! In fact, there are many options for sedation during dental work. Which option is right for you?

Are there all-natural sedation options?

NuCalm is a non-medicinal relaxation option made up of four parts:

  • Chewable all-natural dietary supplements that taste like Vitamin C tablets
  • Sensation-free nerve stimulation
  • Noise cancellation headphones playing a special type of classical music
  • A sleeping mask

You will start to feel a sensation similar to meditation within 5-15 minutes. During the treatment you will “drift in and out” and lose track of time passing. Patients who have tried NuCalm in the past report feeling like they just had a nap once the procedure is over. When you’re ready to leave, you can easily drive yourself home. NuCalm is a popular choice for many patients because it can be combined with other sedation options and regular medications.

Can my dentist administer nitrous oxide (“laughing gas”)?

Nitrous oxide is a sweet-smelling gas (mixed with air) that you breathe in through a mask before treatment. After inhaling the gas, you will probably feel like you’ve had a glass or two of wine: tingling fingers and toes, as well as a floating/dreaming sensation.

At the end of treatment, the medication is turned off and your dentist will get you to breathe in only air through the mask. After 5-20 minutes, you will be able to drive yourself home with no lasting effects.

This is a very safe option for patients who want to feel comfortable and calm during their appointment. When handled properly by a trained dentist, laughing gas can be used by most patients as long as they can breathe through their nose easily.

Are there pills I can take before my dentist appointment?

There are a variety of pills you can take an hour before your appointment. If you choose to take any sort of oral medication, you must be driven to and from the dentist’s office for your own safety. With that being said, it is recommended that you take the medication at your dentist’s office and sit quietly for about an hour before starting treatment. It is normal to feel a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Light-headedness
  • Floating sensation
  • Losing track of time
  • Forgetting what happens during your treatment

During the treatment, you will be breathing on your own and able to respond to requests, but you may not remember doing so. Your dentist should monitor things like your pulse and blood pressure before, during, and after treatment either manually or with an automated machine.

These medications can be combined safely with nitrous oxide if you would like to feel even calmer during your appointment. While laughing gas can be extremely beneficial to patients with dental anxiety, there are limitations based on other medications you may be taking and medical conditions you have.

Once your appointment is over, it is best for you to go home and rest quietly (in the presence of a responsible adult) for the remainder of the day.

Can I request IV sedation at my next dentist appointment?

Only dentists with extensive training can administer this type of sedation. If your dentist does not have the training, they may have an anesthesiologist come to the office to take care of the sedation while they handle the dentistry.

This type of sedation is most common among oral surgeons when a lot of surgery is to be done, like removing lots of teeth, wisdom teeth removal, or placing several dental implants. However, all types of dentistry can be done while using IV sedation.

It begins with a needle placed in your arm or hand before any freezing is given. By the time you get the dental freezing, you are already sedated. This option is perfect if you are undergoing a longer treatment because it is easy for the oral surgeon or anesthesiologist to add or change medications through your IV and to increase or decrease the amount of medication quickly.

While you are sedated, your blood pressure, pulse, and heart rate are monitored closely. You are still able to breathe on your own and respond to questions and requests, but much more slowly. After the procedure, you must be brought home from the dentist’s office by someone else. It is normal to feel groggy for the remainder of the day and the following day, depending on the amount of medication used and the length of the procedure carried out.

Are there any options for deep sedation prior to my appointment?

Deep sedation, or general anesthetic, is used in the hospital. However, if you are too anxious to even have a needle placed in your arm or hand prior to treatment, or you have an unstable medical condition like reactive asthma or heart disease, you may benefit from this type of sedation. In these cases, the equipment will do the breathing for you. If you choose to use this method, you will likely be kept in the hospital for several hours or overnight for monitoring.

What’s the best type of sedation for me?

There is not a one-size-fits-all approach to dental sedation.

To make the best choice, you should have an open and honest conversation with your dentist or oral surgeon to determine the best option for you. If you want help making that choice, reach out to Dr. Andrea Stevens.

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