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Sleeping female patient wearing sedation dentistry mask in Hamilton dental office

How Does Dental Sedation Work?

posted June 28, 2022

It’s only natural to feel nervous or anxious before dental procedures, however, there are some patients who have severe dental anxiety regardless of the type of dental treatment they’re having done. Even if it’s just for general cleaning, patients need help relaxing and that’s okay. This is why sedation dentistry, also referred to as sleep dentistry, exists. We’ll go over different sedation services and how they work below.

Different Sedation Methods & How They Work

Depending on the level of anxiety you’re feeling, and depending on what your dentist suggests for your particular case, there are a few kinds of sedation and sleep dentistry methods used.

Nitrous Oxide (Laughing Gas)

This is the most common type of sedation used in sedation dentistry. It’s referred to as laughing gas because it will also make you feel rather giddy. It’s an odourless and colourless gas that will relax patients while they’re still awake to talk and answer questions efficiently. It’s applied through a mask that will be worn during the entirety of the dental procedure. Because of its minimal sedation, patients should feel completely fine after their appointment to drive home safely. This is also a safe option for children.

Oral Conscious Sedation

Rather than wearing a mask during the entirety of their dental work, this is oral sedation, meaning it’s taken via pill form. It’s also a great option for those who fear needles. It’s more moderate sedation so patients may feel drowsy/more groggy. The oral sedative will be taken approximately an hour before your appointment so you will just sit in the waiting room for the time being. It’ll help to induce relaxation and anxiety control. You will need a friend or family member to drive you home afterwards.

IV Sedation

IV sedation dentistry is a little different. It’s much like general anesthesia where you’ll be completely unconscious, so it provides deep sedation and relaxation. It’s one of the quickest ways to receive sedation as it’s applied via an IV line, therefore, it’s best if you’re not afraid of needles. A dentist anesthesiologist will monitor your pulse, breathing and blood pressure while you’re asleep to ensure you are perfectly healthy and safe. Because you may still feel groggy when you wake up, you’ll need a dedicated driver to take you home.

Hamilton dentist adjusting nitrous oxide levels on machine for sedated patient

Sedation Dentistry Can Be Used For Multiple Procedures

Any time of dental work can make people nervous and anxious, therefore, you should feel comfortable asking your dentist for sedation options during any of your dental visits. General cleanings can be enough to make people feel like they’re going to have a panic attack, whether it’s because they don’t like getting close to people, they have a bad gag reflex, or have had a bad dental experience in the past. Whatever the reason, your feelings are completely valid. This is where conscious sedation may be the best option for you. When it comes to dental surgery like tooth extraction or root canals, IV sedation dentistry may be a better option so you are not aware of any work going on at all, especially if you are afraid of experiencing any pain or hearing the sounds of dental tools.

Why Does Dental Anxiety Occur?

As mentioned above, there are many valid reasons why patients may fear dental visits. Their fears may also be associated with accompanying phobias, like algophobia (fear of pain), emetophobia (fear of vomiting), or trypanophobia (fear of needles), or because they had a very poor dental experience in the past. Some people, even if they have good oral health, fear being told they have something wrong. It can also be hard to remain calm when you have a bad gag reflex or don’t like being touched by others. Whatever the reason, there are still ways that your dental visit can be comfortable and the first step to ensuring this is by telling your dental office of your fears. They will completely understand and be able to put the proper plans in place to help you.

Professional pediatric dentist giving dental exam to young boy in Hamilton dental office

Don't Skip Visiting The Dentist

You may think that the easy way out is just avoiding the dentist altogether, but that’s not recommended. The longer you go without the proper dental care, the more you’re actually putting yourself at risk of needing more dental work. Here at Hamilton Mountain Dental Group, we’re a compassionate group of people who understand what you’re going through. We can discuss conscious sedation and IV sedation with you today so you are 100% comfortable during your entire visit with us.

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