Seeing a cosmetic dentist in Little Rock, AR—or anywhere for that matter—can be quite an experience. It doesn’t matter if the patient is a child or an adult—or if the patient is going in for a routine checkup or a complicated operation. The idea of cavity fillings, root canals, and other treatments can cause apprehension and anxiety for anyone. However, for those who are a little nervous, dentists like Samuel F. Jirik, DDS offer oral sedation to keep patients at ease.
There are several types of sedation dentistry that practices offer, but how do you know if you’re a good candidate for sedation dentistry? What do you need to know before you get ready to undergo sedation? What type of sedation is the best for you? First, let’s look at the benefits of sedative dentistry, and the differences between sedation and anesthesia.
Different Types of Sedation
The three different types of sedation include oral sedation, IV sedation, and sedation by nitrous oxide, also known as “laughing gas.” Each type of sedation has different rules and things that the patient needs to consider before going through the process.
One of the most common rules before sedation deals with eating and drinking. No food should be consumed for 6 hours before the appointment. Fluids should not be consumed 2 hours before the appointment.
Sedation is primarily used as a method to calm down anxious patients for normal treatments. It can also be used for surgeries and other treatments that will take a long time. If you are extremely nervous about setting foot in a dentist’s office, or have a phobia about dentists, then sedation can help you relax before you go through the treatment.
Patients will typically be sedated during various surgical treatments, or by request for more minor treatments. There are four types of sedation that you can have offered to you, and each type differs by the strength of the sedation offers:
- Minimal sedation: This is enough sedation to relax you and calm you down, but not enough to knock you unconscious
- Moderate sedation: Under this level of sedation, you’ll still be conscious, but will slur your words and will not have much memory of the dental treatment
- Deep sedation: This ensures that you fall into a barely conscious state, but you can still be brought back
- General Anesthesia: This sedation makes you unconscious
As you can see, the main difference between sedation and general anesthesia is your level of consciousness. Anesthesia will make you unconscious, and you will be awakened after the job is done, while sedation still keeps you conscious, depending on the severity of the sedation, you might be drowsy and drifting between consciousness.
Other types of anesthesia can be used locally, mostly to numb the mouth and prevent any pain while a treatment is being done.
What to Think About Before and After Sedation
Unless you are having the nitrous oxide level of sedation, you will need someone to drive you home after the treatment is completed. Anyone can be given sedation, depending on the treatment they are undertaking, and also any fears they might have in the dentist’s chair. Phobias can be taxing no matter what, and the strength of the fear can increase the need for sedation.
The different types of sedation have different strengths, but no matter what, you won’t be able to drive yourself home or operate a vehicle until it wears off. As long as you have someone to bring you home and watch over you for around 4 hours until the sedation truly wears off, then there are no other prerequisites for sedation dentistry.
Finally, once you are recovered fully, an adult should bring you home and keep you comfortable. To make sure that you recover from the sedation and the anesthesia, they should be able to slowly drink fluids once they are awake, and should be able to walk and move around without any balance issues.
Benefits of Oral Sedation Dentistry
Out of the three main types of sedation dentistry, oral sedation is the most common and the most widely used. The Nitrous Oxide treatment for sedation dentistry is used for minor treatments and also for young children, while the IV treatment is used for those with large amounts of anxiety and larger surgeries that will take more time than average.
However, oral sedation dentistry is the most commonly used and has a number of benefits for both patients and dentists. If you either want to have sedation before your next dental visit or need to pick a sedation option for surgery or upcoming treatment, then here are the top 6 reasons to consider oral sedation.
1. It’s Easy to Administer
You won’t have to be hooked up to an IV drip or breathe in laughing gas before the treatment. Instead, you just swallow the pill around an hour before the treatment. Most oral sedatives work like sleep medicine, and contain ingredients like valium, where they leave you in a relaxed state without letting you completely drift off.
Most sedatives are given to you by the dentist, and then you have to wait for the pill to work before the treatment can work. But since most people already take most pills and medication by mouth anyway, the idea of taking one more pill is often easier to come to terms with.
2. The Patient Is Still Conscious
While most people confuse sedation with anesthesia and think that all sedation will knock you unconscious, sedation dentistry will still leave you conscious. How conscious will depend exactly on the strength of the pill that you take.
Even under the sedation, you might be sluggish, but will still be able to listen to the dentist and follow their directions. You’ll be able to speak, listen, and understand commands, just without the fear that comes with going to the dentist. This is good for routine treatments such as teeth cleanings and checkups, where you’ll need to take commands and move your head and mouth.
Even for longer surgeries and treatments, sedation dentistry is still good to consider. You won’t have any memory of the treatment after the pill takes effect, and once you are brought out of the daze, you might not even remember going to the dentist at all. This can help everyone, but especially those who have trauma related to the dentist’s office, that way, they can go to the dentist, but also not deal with any panic attacks afterward.
3. No Pain or Discomfort
The sedation not only helps you relax and enter an almost dreamlike state, but it also helps you become more comfortable with the anesthesia. Which is a numbing agent for your mouth, that is often injected by a needle. You will not feel anything in your mouth as the dentist works, keeping you safe from pain. Without pain, you’ll have no anxiety at all, no matter what the treatment is or what tools are used.
One of the root causes of the fear of the dentist is the idea that the treatments will hurt, but being sedated will remove all of that. Finally, for those people who are uncomfortable with the dentist due to having a gag reflex, the sedation keeps your muscles calm and prevents any discomfort due to gagging.
4. Prevents the Fear of Needles
For most dental patients, the fear of an IV sedation and the needle that comes with it can be just as scary as the dentist itself. Especially for those who need anesthesia injected to numb the mouth further.
But sedation dentistry keeps you calm throughout the entire treatment, and since the pill is taken well before you are given the needle for the anesthesia, you’ll be able to be calm and relaxed as your mouth is numbed and the anesthesia takes effect.
Not having an IV needle is often one of the trump cards for those considering different types of sedation dentistry. Since oral sedation dentistry is needle-free, it stops the patient from becoming even more anxious. Then, when the needle for the anesthesia comes around, you will be relaxed enough to not be afraid.
5. Keeps the Patient Comfortable
One of the major benefits of being sedated is the comfort it gives the patient. The act of simply taking a pill that will only make you groggy is simple to understand. Plus, the medications in the dental sedation often has an amnesic effect on you. Most people often say that they have either very little memory of the dental treatment or no memory at all.
They also report feeling like they had slept through the entire treatment, and that the time had passed quickly during the appointment. This prevents any panic attacks during the treatment, allows patients to move on quickly after the treatment is done, and also let’s a larger selection of dental work be done during one appointment.
6. Low Cost and Risk
Using oral sedation dentistry via a pill is often much cheaper than an IV sedation and doesn’t require deep breaths of laughing gas. So, if you need some calming dental sedation during your appointments, you can be confident that it won’t add too much to your dental bill.
Finally, while oral sedation dentistry does require some extra monitoring of the patient’s life signs to keep them safe, it is much safer than IV sedation and general anesthesia to keep you calm, as the pills don’t often trigger reactions or other problems in most people.
The Benefits of Oral Sedation
As you can see, using sedation dentistry is one of the most common and safest ways to be sedated during dental treatments. It is easy to administer, has several benefits to keep patients calm and responsive, and helps to cut down on the fear of dentists and needles. Fears that might stop otherwise healthy people from seeing their local dentist and getting their teeth cleaned and checked up on.
There are many reasons why you should consider being sedated for your next dental visit, but the best reason is this: It’s the easiest way to prevent stress from ruining an otherwise perfect dental trip. If you don’t want to be afraid of the dentist, then taking a prescribed dental pill can be an easy answer to take the fear of the dentist down a few pegs.
If you need some sedation to calm your nerves and make sure that your trip is a good one, then don’t be afraid to seek it out. A dentist can’t fix your teeth if you aren’t comfortable. For more information, check out our Little Rock, AR Cosmetic Dentist office. Then ask the dentist, Samuel F. Jirik, DDS, about sedation dentistry options before your next checkup!