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The 411 on Sedation Dentistry

By: rattihanda on December 9th, 2015


Believe it or not, there are many people with such a strong fear of the dentist that they would rather suffer through a toothache and extreme discomfort than head to the dentist’s office for treatment.

Sedation dentistry is an option for those who suffer from extreme dental anxiety. This process uses medication to help patients relax during their dental procedure. There are generally four levels of sedation available:

1) Minimal – awake but relaxed

2) Moderate – may have little memory of the procedure afterwards

3) Deep – On the edge of consciousness, but still able to be woken up

4) General Anesthesia – completely unconscious

To achieve these varying levels of sedation, dentists have several ways of administering medicine. These include:

1) Inhaled Minimal Sedation – nitrous oxide (sometimes referred to as laughing gas) combined with oxygen, delivered through a mask. This is a very easily controlled delivery method, and the effects wear off quickly.

2) Oral Sedation – a pill can be taken to deliver minimal or moderate sedation. The pill is generally taken an hour or so before the procedure, and is the most commonly used form of sedation dentistry. The time it takes for the effects to wear off varies by patient.

3) IV Sedation – used generally in moderate sedation. Because the medication is administered through an IV, it starts working quickly, and allows the dentist to continuously adjust sedation levels.

4) Deep Sedation & General Anesthesia – these types of medication are usually administered through inhaled or IV methods. They render patients almost or totally unconscious, and the effects can take a significant amount of time to wear off.

For patients with a crippling fear of dental procedures, sedation dentistry can be a tremendous asset in getting into the chair for needed treatments.


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