Many people dread going to the dentist. Whether you feel guilty about not flossing regularly, are anxious about scheduling a big procedure like a wisdom teeth removal, or are one of the 30 to 40 million Americans suffering from generalized dental phobia, you should never have to avoid going to the dentist out of discomfort or fear.

At The Art of Dental Wellness, we want to make dental anxiety a thing of the past. We are here to take care of you and your teeth, and we strive to make sure you are as comfortable and confident as possible while in our care. That’s why we offer a variety of sedation treatments for our dental procedures. Sedation can be tailored to your specific needs to help you relax and prevent pain and discomfort. In today’s post we’ll take a look at the most common types of sedation dentistry to examine which one might be right for you.

Inhaled sedation

Inhaled sedation is typically a light sedation that keeps you conscious and relaxed throughout your procedure. Also known as “laughing gas” or “happy air,” it is made of a mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen and is inhaled through a nosepiece. It will take a few minutes to become effective and a few minutes to recover at the end of the procedure.

People who have taken inhaled sedation typically report feeling relaxed, slightly warm and drowsy, with mild tingling in the hands and feet, and a sensation of floating.

Inhaled sedation is ideal if you:

  • Have mild to moderate dental anxiety
  • Have a fear of needles
  • Dislike swallowing pills
  • Want to suppress a strong gag reflex
  • Want to be conscious throughout
  • Want to quickly recover from the sedation

Oral sedation

Oral sedation is administered via pill(s) taken 30 to 60 minutes prior to the procedure. One of its main disadvantages is the length of time before becoming effective along with the lengthy period of recovery. However, oral sedation is one of the most popular options for those seeking a mild sedative.

Oral sedation is ideal if you:

  • Have mild to moderate dental anxiety
  • Have a fear of needles
  • Want only light sedation
  • Want to be conscious throughout
  • Are not as concerned about pain management

Intravenous (IV) sedation

Intravenous (IV) sedation is administered directly to the bloodstream through a tube. Typically a mixture of a benzodiazepine and an opioid, this type of sedation is stronger than inhaled or oral sedation, and is ideal for patients who need more involved procedures like surgical dental extractions, or who simply would rather not remember their time at the dentist’s office. Under IV sedation, patients are relaxed and at the very edge of consciousness. They can respond to verbal cues, but their recollection of the procedure will be vague or nonexistent.

Intravenous sedation is ideal if you:

  • Have moderate to severe dental anxiety
  • Need a longer/more involved procedure like extracting an impacted wisdom tooth
  • Dislike swallowing pills
  • Want to be relaxed and at the edge of consciousness throughout
  • Don’t want to remember the procedure

General anaesthesia

General anaesthesia must be administered by a trained anaesthesiologist through a combination of inhaled gases and IV medications to render the patient completely unconscious. Throughout the procedure, the patient remains unconscious and cannot feel any pain. This is not a common form of dental sedation anymore, but it still may be the best option in specific cases.

General anaesthesia is ideal if you:

  • Have severe dental anxiety
  • Need a longer/more involved procedure like extracting an impacted wisdom tooth
  • Have a high tolerance for IV sedation medications
  • Don’t want to be conscious at all
  • Don’t want to remember the procedure

Please keep in mind that this is only a starting guide. Although dental sedation is beneficial for many people, it’s not for everyone. When you book your initial consultation with The Art of Dental Wellness, Dr. Kerri Hill will discuss your specific needs, health, and medical history to determine which dental sedation method is appropriate for you.

Don’t let dental anxiety keep you from taking care of your teeth. We will work with you to ensure your continued comfort and health, no matter the procedure. Call us today to book your consultation!