How Effective Is Sedation Dentistry?

Oct 01, 2021

The thought of having to sit in a dentist’s chair for a dental procedure sends surges of fear and shivers down the spine of some people. This might be due to bad dental experiences they had as kids or pure phobia for dental procedures. People like this would rather endure severe pain from tooth decay, cavity, or even root canal than visit a dentist. Dental procedures, in truth, many years ago, could be very painful and excruciating and are enough to make one anxious. One can only imagine the pangs of pain an individual would have to endure while a tooth is being forced out due to severe decay. However, modern dentistry has devised some means through which you can go through dental procedures calmly. This act of dentistry is called sedation dentistry.

Sedation dentistry sometimes referred to as sleep dentistry, is a branch of dentistry that uses medication to help patients relax during dental procedures. However, patients are mostly awake excluding those under the influence of general anesthesia. Dental anxiety can get in the way of a dental procedure and can even result in complications. Sedation dentistry helps to make patients calm and ease the stress of dental procedures. There are levels of sedation depending on the intensity of the procedure.  Levels of sedation include:

  • Minimal sedation: With this level of sedation, the patient is awake but relaxed. You will be conscious of your environment, however, you are calm.
  • Moderate sedation: This was formerly known as conscious sedation. In this level of sedation, you are awake, however, your words might be slurred while speaking and you might not fully remember the procedure afterward.
  • Deep sedation: At this level of sedation, you’re at the edge of consciousness, that is, you are almost unconscious. However, you can be still be awakened.
  • General anesthesia: With this type of dental sedation, you are completely unconscious, that is, you do not have awareness of all that is going on around you.

Types Of Dental Sedation

  • Inhaled sedatives. Nitrous oxide, popularly known as laughing gas can be combined with oxygen through a mask, and placed on your nose to help you relax. Nitrous oxide is a mild sedative that wears off quickly. The amount you get can be controlled by your dentist.
  • Oral sedatives. The levels of sedation with this type of sedation can range from minimal to moderate. This type of sedative can be applied through pills. These pills are taken about an hour before the procedure. Depending on the dose administered, oral sedatives can make a patient drowsy. Oral sedatives are the most common types of sedatives used in sedation dentistry. However, falling asleep due to oral sedatives can be awakened by a gentle shake.
  • IV sedation. IV sedation, unlike gas and pills, is administered intravenously (through the veins). IV sedation works more quickly and minimizes or eliminates pain. The intravenous method of administering IV sedation helps your dentist to monitor your vitals and adjust the dosage when necessary. With IV sedation, you are likely not to remember the procedure and it helps you cooperate with your dentist and makes performing multiple procedures at once possible.
  • Deep sedation. This type of sedative makes you totally unconscious and deeply asleep throughout the procedure. The effects of general anesthesia cannot be shaken off by awakening the patient except it wears off or is reversed with medication.

The type of sedation administered, regardless, anesthesia is required at the site to be worked on to numb pain.

How Long Does Dental Sedation Last?

The duration for which dental sedation lasts depends on the type of dental sedation administered and the way it is administered. Inhaled sedatives like nitrous oxide are mild and do not last very long. The effects of nitrous oxide wear off within three to five minutes after removing the mask used in administering it. Other sedatives like IV and general anesthesia can last as long as two to eight hours except reversed with medications.

Is It Okay To Sleep After Sedation?

Yes, sleeping after sedation is okay. However, you should be easily roused from sleep and able to respond to gestures.

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