Different Types of Dental Sedation
Believe it or not, there are three primary types of dental sedation. Taking into account a patient’s personal level of comfort and the procedure being done, our dentists will typically recommend one of the following methods.
Minimal sedation easily accounts for the majority of sedation dentistry we perform in the office. This is the lightest form that we use, and only employs the use of nitrous oxide (laughing gas). While laughing gas is designed to make you feel a little woozy and giggly, you’ll remain conscious throughout the length of the procedure.
Dispensed through a breathing apparatus, the effects of laughing gas are typically felt very quickly (sometimes in as little as 30 seconds). Many patients that experience anxiety opt for minimal sedation because it’s highly effective at reducing stress and bringing them into a relaxed state during the appointment.
Another reason minimal sedation is such a popular choice is because nitrous oxide wears off fairly quickly, usually leaving patients capable of driving home afterward. For many of our patients, simply being able to go to and from their appointment without the assistance of a friend or family member is enough to make them feel more at ease!
At Inland Family Dentistry, after the procedure is complete, your dentist will switch you to oxygen so that the nitrous oxide in your system gets flushed away, leaving you feeling clear headed and ready to tackle the rest of your day. On top of being extremely safe, laughing gas has no lingering side effects. Minimal sedation is most commonly used during minor procedures (such as a cavity) and routine cleanings or periodontal treatment.
Moderate sedation uses a combination of nitrous oxide and oral sedation with varying dosage depending on the patient’s level of anxiety. For this reason, moderate sedation is typically recommended for patients that experience higher than usual anxiety when visiting the dentist. For instance, do you happen to find yourself losing sleep the night before your appointment? If so, moderate sedation can help.
With this type of treatment plan, patients are prescribed an oral sedative that they can pick up from their local pharmacy. Thanks to the flexibility of oral sedation, patients can work directly with their dentist to determine the best treatment approach whether that be accounting for sleep anxiety a day or two prior to the appointment or anxiety experienced a few hours leading up to their visit.
Oral sedatives can also be prescribed in different dosages depending on the level of anxiety you experience personally. To determine what will work best for you, we recommend communicating any and all concerns to our team to ensure you’re as comfortable as possible. Unlike minimal sedation, oral sedatives will make you drowsy, so you’ll need to have a friend or family member present to drive you to and from the appointment.
At our office, Dr. Douglas Coe works one on one with all patients that opt for moderate sedation. The first step is scheduling a consultation appointment with Dr. Coe to review the treatment plan, your medical history, and answer any questions you might have. Once you’ve arrived for your appointment, you’ll be administered nitrous oxide (laughing gas) to take care of any lingering anxiety so you’re as comfortable as possible.
Some patients become so relaxed between the oral sedation and laughing gas that they actually sleep through the procedure! The procedures conducted under moderate sedation are very similar to those done under minimal sedation. The main differentiating factor is your personal level of comfort, which we are more than happy to accommodate. Under moderate sedation, you are still breathing on your own and able to respond to instruction; however, it does offer an amnesia effect.
Full or IV sedation is the highest level of dental sedation that we offer. Here at IFD, we work with a licensed anesthesiologist that will come and administer the IV sedation while one of our doctors performs the procedure. Full or IV sedation is actually quite common, especially when working with patients that require more invasive procedures or longer restorative appointments.
General anesthesia renders the patient entirely unconscious. This type of sedation is less common in modern dentistry, primarily being used when patients require significant oral surgery or if they’re resistant to other forms of sedation. While under general anesthesia, the anesthesiologist will be constantly monitoring your vital signs to ensure everything goes as smooth as possible.
General anesthesia uses a combination of intravenous medications and inhaled gasses to bring the patient into an unconscious state. While unconscious, patients do not feel anything and will have no recollection of the surgery at all.
Before patients are administered any form of anesthesia, they will first meet with the surgeon performing their procedure to go over medical history, a brief physical examination, and address any concerns or expectations.