What Is Dental Sedation?
Dental sedation is offered to our patients who experience fear or anxiety during dental treatments. Since it affects a patient’s state of consciousness and memory of the dental procedure, sedation is an effective tool when treating patients with high levels of anxiety and also makes performing multiple, long or complicated procedures easier and quicker.
Dental patients with generalized anxiety, fear of needles and instruments, prior dental trauma, or a general fear of the dentist can take oral medication in order to reduce their anxieties. The sedative effect allows more dental work to be completed in fewer appointments, as well as allowing complex procedures to be performed in less time. The advantages of oral sedation include ease of administration (you just have to take a pill), effectiveness, amnesic effect, and low cost.
Nitrous Oxide Sedation
Nitrous oxide sedation is the most frequent form of sedation used in dentistry, used for over 150 years with proven safety record. It is best suited for mild or moderate dental anxiety significantly reducing fear or apprehension, and providing a state of relaxation.
Under nitrous oxide you remain conscious (awake) and able to breathe on your own, with a sense of total well-being, euphoria or floating. It also produces a pain-relieving effect, however, it varies a lot from person to person and can’t be relied upon. It means that a local anesthetic will still have to be given to ensure your comfort. Nitrous oxide will put you at ease so you experience no discomfort during the injection, and a little memory of the procedure. In addition, it may also help to minimize severe gagging during dental treatment.
There are very few contraindications for the procedure. Women in their first trimester of pregnancy, patients with emphysema, those under anti-cancer therapy with bleomycin or those who have recently undergone ear or eye surgery should avoid nitrous. If you are either congested, have a cold/flu or cannot breathe through the nose, your appointment may require postponing.
Nitrous oxide and oxygen gases are stored in canisters and delivered to patients via a tube and small mask placed over the nose. To young children requiring nitrous sedation, the mask will be provided in advance for familiarization.
After the procedure there’s no “hangover” effect – the gas is eliminated from the body within 3 to 5 minutes after the gas supply is stopped. You can safely drive home and don’t need an escort. You can return to normal activities immediately.