At New Smiles in Sherwood, Oregon, we pride ourselves on providing caring, empathetic dentistry for our patients. But sometimes, a patient suffers from a higher level of dental anxiety or has a very low tolerance for pain. The corresponding apprehension about going to the dentist can lead to patients missing or not scheduling appointments, which can exacerbate dental health problems. To help our patients overcome these issues, we offer sedation dentistry.
What is Sedation Dentistry?
Sedation dentistry uses medication to help patients relax during dental procedures. Sedation dentistry is recommended for patients who have any of the following conditions: dental anxiety, highly sensitive teeth, difficulty in achieving numbness through anesthetics, and extensive dental needs.
Who is a good candidate for sedation dentistry?
Sedation and pain relief are not the same things. At New Smiles Dental, we offer four forms of sedation to help patients deal with strong feelings of fear and anxiety that arise when they visit the dentist. After receiving sedation and successfully completing their appointment, patients often change the entire way they view dental appointments going forward. Sedation could be a great option if you:
- Have difficult overcoming anxiety about the dentist
- Have a low pain threshold
- Have very sensitive teeth
- Have a very strong gag reflex
- Need a large amount of work done
Once you are sedated and comfortable, we then properly numb, or anesthetize, the area we are working on, ensuring that your procedure is pain-free.
Types Of Sedation Dentistry
At New Smiles in Sherwood, OR we offer four levels of sedation:
- Conscious IV sedation where the patient is on the edge of consciousness, but can still be awakened.
- Deep IV sedation where the patient is not conscious and breathing is supplemented.
- Nitrous Oxide sedation where the patient is awake, but relaxed.
- Oral conscious sedation where the patient is conscious, but may not remember much of the procedure.
Intravenous sedation, or IV sedation, is when a sedative is injected directly into the vein. This moderate level of sedation can be achieved almost instantly and the dentist can continually control the amount of sedative administered. Even though you are conscious and responsive during your treatment, you may not remember much of the procedure. Throughout the procedure, your vital signs are monitored. Patients may have their grogginess persist even after the procedure is complete, so we require bringing someone with you to drive you home.
Deep IV Sedation
Deep Intravenous sedation, or Deep IV Sedation requires an anesthesiologist or equivalent to administering the sedative directly into the vein. This deep level of sedation is most appropriate for a longer procedure and requires supplementary breathing during sedation. Deep IV sedation will produce amnesia of the procedure. Throughout the procedure, your vital signs are monitored. Patients will remain unsteady even after the procedure is complete, so we require bringing someone with you to drive you home.
Nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, is inhaled through a mask that’s placed over the nose during treatment for minimal sedation. The gas helps the patient relax.
Nitrous oxide does not put the patient to sleep, and he or she can hear and respond to the directions of the dentist throughout the procedure. The gas effects tend to wear off quickly, so patients usually can drive themselves home afterward.
During oral sedation, pills are taken about an hour before the procedure starts. It will make you drowsy, but you’ll usually stay awake. The dose will determine the level of sedation. Even though you are conscious and responsive during your treatment, you may not remember much of the procedure. Throughout the procedure, your vital signs are monitored. Patients may have their grogginess persist even after the procedure is complete, so we require bringing someone with you to drive you home.
Advantages of Oral Sedation
Oral sedation is an excellent method of treatment for patients who have any of the following concerns:
- Dental Anxiety
- Difficulty Getting Numb
- Very Sensitive Teeth
- Extensive Dental Needs
How does oral sedation work?
With oral sedation, the patient orally takes the pill about an hour before the procedure starts. The sedative is a pill similar to Valium, and it simply relaxes the patient. The patient is awake and can respond to questions and requests, but they later have no recollection of the entire session. Because patients tend to be a little groggy after taking oral sedation, we require that they receive a ride home.
"New Smiles Dental is one of the very best in the business. All staff were personable, professional and clearly cared for my well being. I highly recommend them."
What procedures can be performed under sedation?
All of our procedures, everything from removing decay and filling a tooth to placing porcelain veneers, can be performed under sedation. Sedation does add some cost to your treatment, but most overly anxious patients feel it is well worth it.
Will I feel anything during my treatment?
Patients sometimes confuse sedation with anesthesia. They are not the same at all. Sedation relaxes you. Local anesthesia numbs the area we are working on. Modern anesthetics are so effective that it’s a guarantee you won’t feel a thing during the treatment.
How long do the effects of dental sedation last?
The effects of oral sedation last from two to four hours after your appointment. IV sedation varies with different patients. Some patients have almost no after-effects just minutes afterward; others can feel effects for a few hours after their appointment. The effects of nitrous oxide stop as soon as the mask is removed from your nose.
Is sedation dentistry the same as being unconscious?
Again, there is a misconception here. Sedation dentistry has the goal of helping the patient overcome his or her anxiety about visiting the dentist. It is not anesthesia. Anesthesia is used to block any pain the patient may experience.
Being unconscious would fall under what is known as “general anesthesia.” We use general anesthesia for some of the oral surgeries we provide. When it is necessary, we bring in an anesthesiologist to provide the anesthesia and to monitor the patient. At New Smiles, for the vast majority of patients and treatments, we need no more than oral sedation, conscious IV sedation, and nitrous oxide sedation, coupled with local numbing anesthesia for the treatment area.
How long does it take the sedation to wear off?
Nitrous oxide wears off instantly when the mask is removed. With oral sedation, the effects can last for two to four hours after your appointment. Recommendations are for the patient to not drive a car for 12 hours after receiving oral sedation. The effects of IV sedation can be reversed almost instantly, but the patient is still not supposed to drive a care for 12 hours.
How will I feel after my appointment is over?
If you opted to have sedation with nitrous oxide, you’ll feel completely fine in just a couple of minutes. With the other forms of sedation, you’ll feel a little groggy for a few hours.
What are the risks or side effects involved with sedation dentistry?
Oral sedation has an amnesic effect. While technically a side effect, most patients see this as a benefit because they have no recollection of their visit to our office or of their procedure. Oral sedatives can also cause dry mouth, headaches, dizziness, and occasional nausea, but these pass quickly.
Nitrous oxide can create pressure changes in the middle ear and in the intestines. This can lead to short-term pain, but this is a very rare reaction. In the vast majority of cases, nitrous oxide is very safe and very effective for alleviating your anxiety.
With IV sedation, there is a risk of over-sedation, but we continually monitor your vital signs, so this is a very low risk.