Sedation dentistry is an option for people who suffer from dental anxiety or dental phobia to the point that they avoid getting dental care.
During your appointment, your experienced dentist will provide a level of sedation ranging from minimal to general anesthesia to help you relax and receive the treatment you need for a beautiful and healthy smile.
How can you prepare for an appointment with sedation dentistry? While each dentist will give you specific instructions for your appointment, here’s what to expect for each level of sedation!
During minimal sedation, you will be awake and alert, but more relaxed than usual. Nitrous oxide—also known as laughing gas—is commonly used for minimal sedation.
Some dentists will suggest that you avoid eating for approximately two hours prior to your appointment when receiving nitrous oxide, as it can make some people nauseous. Otherwise, you shouldn’t have many restrictions prior to your appointment.
The good news is that the effects of nitrous oxide are quick to wear off, usually within just minutes. This means most patients can go home by themselves after a sedation dentistry appointment with minimal sedation.
Moderate sedation is the next level of sedation and typically consists of oral medication . Your dentist will prescribe sedative medication that may be used in combination with nitrous oxide to provide the optimal level of sedation needed for your procedure. You’ll take the medication upon arrival at your dentist’s office and wait for it to take effect.
There generally aren’t any fasting requirements with moderate sedation, but always follow your dentist’s specific instructions. As the effects of the medication can take some time to fully wear off, you should have someone to take you home following the procedure and stay with you for a few hours.
You will be asleep during deep sedation, but you won’t be unconscious as you would be during general anesthesia . Since this is a form of intravenous (IV) sedation, the effects can take up to 24 hours to wear off, and you’ll need someone to accompany you home.
Your dentist may also suggest fasting before your appointment. You won’t remember the procedure and may experience mild side effects such as nausea, a headache, and drowsiness in the hours after you get home .
General anesthesia is the deepest level of sedation. You will be unconscious and not remember the procedure. You’ll likely need to fast before your appointment, and you should have someone go home with you, as the anesthesia can take 24 hours to fully wear off.
You may experience side effects such as a sore throat, nausea, and confusion. It’s a good idea to plan to take the rest of the day off to recover.
Can Sedation Dentistry Help You?
For patients that have extreme anxiety about visiting the dentist, sedation dentistry may be an option to help you safely and comfortably get the treatment you need. If you find yourself avoiding dental care because of anxiety or fear, ask your dentist about sedation dentistry for your next appointment!