Imagine undergoing a complex dental procedure like a root canal, wisdom teeth extraction, or other form of oral surgery, and when your treatment is complete, you had little to no recollection of the time it took, the pain, the noise, or the discomfort you were expecting. We are pleased to offer our patients the option of comfortable, safe, and effective sedation dentistry. Patients who benefit from sedation dentistry have:
- A fear or elevated level of anxiety associated with being at the dentist
- Severe gag reflex
- Have large treatment plans requiring many hours to complete.
- A hard time sitting still for long periods of time
- A hard time getting (and staying) numb from anesthetics
What is sedation dentistry?
"Sedation dentistry" is a term used to describe techniques that can safely and comfortably reduce anxiety, create amnesia, and eliminate a gag reflex in patients while receiving dental care. Benefits to sedation dentistry include:
- No memory of undergoing the procedure
- No sense of time while under sedation
- No sense of smell or sound
- No fear or anxiety during treatment
Patients who have undergone a procedure using sedation dentistry will often tell you it is a simple, relaxing way to experience dentistry.
I am nervous about being unconscious. What levels of sedation are available to me?
There is no need to be nervous about having sedation dentistry at our practice. We are licensed by the American Dental Association, and you will find that we are both respectful and professional at all times.
Sedation dentistry is closely regulated by law, and there are three sedative states at which your dentist can administer your treatment: mild sedation, moderate sedation, and deep sedation.
- Minimal Sedation — Anxiolysis, or minimal sedation, is the lightest form of sedation and is often used for patients with mild anxiety, shorter procedures, or less complex situations. Mild sedation can be achieved through the use of an oral sedative (like Halcion) and/or the use of Nitrous oxide (laughing gas). The level of sedation can very depending upon a number of factors like your age, weight, metabolism, and history of drug use. The goal of minimal sedation is to relax the patient or allow them to become very sleepy while they remain awake during their dental care. The patient is able to breathe on their own, but feel a great sense of relaxation. Patients typically recover from anxiolysis sedation within a few hours after the procedure is complete.
- Moderate Sedation — is a drug-induced depression of consciousness during which patients respond purposefully to verbal commands, either alone or accompanied by light tactile stimulation. No interventions are required to maintain a patients airway or cardiovascular function. This technique is used for patients with moderate dental anxiety, who need longer appointments or require more complex procedures. Conscious sedation often refers to the use of light IV sedation. With conscious sedation, you will remain awake throughout your procedure but will be in a deep state of relaxation. It is required that patients who receive conscious sedation have a parent, spouse, or friend accompany them to and from appointments because it can take several hours for the sedative to wear off. Driving is unsafe.
How are sedatives administered?
- Inhalation — Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, is the most frequently used method for easing mild to moderate anxiety. When used by itself, recovery is quick so you can resume your normal activities immediately.
- Oral — An extremely common technique for dental sedation is oral sedation. It is easy and does not require the use of needles. You will be given a prescription pill which, when taken about an hour before your appointment, will have you in a more relaxed state-of-mind by the time you arrive at our office. These pills make you sleepy and have an “amnesia” affect, which will result in you having limited memory of your appointment.
- IV — The doctor will administer medications intravenously. This is generally paired with the above oral sedation to make your experience as relaxing as possible. This is a form of conscious sedation – so you are breathing on your own – however, with the combined effect of the amnesia pill and IV sedation, you will experience the illusion of being “asleep” during your procedure. This is the most effective sedation technique offered in our practice, and is a great option for patients who feel particularly anxious about dental procedures, as you will have no memory of your appointment.
Very few general dentists in the state of Washington have a license to provide moderate sedation, and Dr. Nohr is proud to be one of those providers!
Please contact our practice to schedule a consultation, learn more about sedation dentistry, and find out which sedation dentistry method may be right for you.