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Sedation Dentistry: Managing Dental Anxiety

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Sedation Choices

There are 3 different types of sedation:

1. - The lightest form of sedation is nitrous oxide (laughing gas). This produces a mild sense of relaxation.

2. - Oral sedation is a moderate form of sedation. This form of sedation typically uses two pills taken before the dental visit to produce a deep state of relaxation. It is best used for short appointments, because once the drug reaches its peak state of relaxation it slowly begins to wear off.

3. - The deepest form of sedation is IV sedation (sleep dentistry). This form of sedation uses pain relieving and sedative drugs to create a sleep like state where the patient is virtually unaware of the dentistry being preformed. Most patients have little or no memory of the visit.

Only about 4% of dentists have the training and licensing to provide IV Sedation.

Some dentists have access to all of the above forms of sedation to help a patient feel comfortable before, during and after treatment.

For some patients with severe levels of anxiety a popular solution is to prescribe an oral sedation medication to help the patient relax before the office visit. One pill can be taken the night before and another the morning of the scheduled treatment.

Once the patient arrives for the dental appointment, nitrous oxide mixed with oxygen is used to further maintain the relaxed state while the IV Sedation is started. Once the patient is in the sleep like state, treatment can begin with a local anesthetic (Novocain). The patient typically has little or no memory of the visit.

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