Dental anxiety is a common issue. Although a dentist’s gentle touch and reassuring manner can do a lot to alleviate patients’ nervousness, some individuals need a little more help in the form of sedation dentistry. Thanks to expertly administered sedation medications, patients are able to breeze through their dental appointments and get the oral healthcare they need without suffering from undue anxiety. Let’s discuss three common sedation dentistry options: nitrous oxide, oral conscious sedation, and IV sedation.
Nitrous oxide, which is sometimes called laughing gas, is a colorless, almost odorless gas. Your dentist administers it through a special mask that gets placed on your nose. As you breathe in the nitrous oxide, it produces an immediate calming effect. It does not produce unconsciousness, so you’ll still be able to respond to your dentist’s directions during your procedure.
Nitrous oxide offers several outstanding benefits:
- It wears off just as quickly as it takes effect, so it will be safe for you to drive yourself home after your appointment
- Your dentist can adjust your sedation level throughout your procedure
- Nitrous oxide is safe for the vast majority of patients, including young children
- Side effects are usually minimal and wear off soon after the nitrous oxide is no longer being administered
Oral Conscious Sedation
If your dentist recommends oral conscious sedation for you, you’ll swallow a pill prior to your procedure. As the drug takes effect, it produces a calming, relaxing sensation. The medication isn’t so powerful that it will render you unconscious, so you will still be able to interact with the dentist during your procedure. Some types of medication used for oral sedation produce a mild amnesiac effect; you may not remember your appointment after it is over. Because this type of sedation can take several hours to a full day to completely wear off, you’ll need to have a friend or family member drive you home from your appointment.
Like oral conscious sedation, intravenously administered sedation is quite powerful. A major difference between the two is that with IV sedation, your dentist can adjust your level of medication throughout your procedure. You may spend your appointment in a lightly relaxed state, or you might even drift off to sleep and become mostly unresponsive. However, IV sedation is not the same as general anesthesia; it will not render you completely unconscious. Following IV sedation, you should avoid doing any potentially dangerous activity, such as driving, for at least 24 hours.
Which Is Best for You?
If you suffer from dental anxiety, be sure to tell your dentist about your concerns. They’ll discuss your sedation options with you and recommend the one that best fits your circumstances. In most cases, nitrous oxide sedation provides a sufficient calming effect. However, oral conscious sedation or IV sedation might be the preferred option if you:
- Do not want to wear a gas mask throughout your appointment
- Suffer from severe dental anxiety
- Are undergoing a particularly lengthy or complex procedure
- Have a medical condition that makes it extremely difficult for you to sit still for extended periods of time
Does anxiety cause you to hold back from visiting your dentist? Don’t let your stress rob you of a healthy smile! Talk to your dentist about your sedation options so you can attend your next appointment with confidence rather than fear.
About the Author
Dr. Paresh B. Patel is an experienced, multi-award-winning general and sedation dentist who is proud to serve families in Frisco and the surrounding areas. He offers various types of sedation, including nitrous oxide, oral conscious sedation, and IV sedation. If you would like to learn more about Dr. Patel and how he can help you conquer your dental anxiety, contact our team today at 469-362-3150.