Going to the Dentist Doesn’t Need to Make You Anxious
We understand that going to the dentist isn’t everyone’s favourite activity. However, for some patients, the thought of going to the dentist is so anxiety-inducing that they may avoid necessary care.
Though most people think of fillings when they think of the dentist’s office, preventative care plays a significant role in maintaining your oral health and your overall wellbeing.
To help ensure all patients can get the care they need, and help keep all our patients smiling, we are pleased to offer sedation dentistry services.
What is Sedation Dentistry?
Sedation dentistry involves using sedatives to help anxious patients relax so that their dental team can provide the care they need without causing any undue stress or anxiety.
Sedation dentistry is so effective that most patients report remembering almost nothing of their procedure. This makes sedation dentistry a good choice for patients with dental phobias
Sedation dentistry may also be suggested for patients who require a lot of dental work, have a low pain threshold, or have trouble sitting still during dental procedures.
What Are the Different Types of Sedation Dentistry?
Which sedative is best for you depends on a variety of factors. Before your appointment, your dentist will sit down with you and discuss your options and help you choose the right type of sedative to meet your needs.
West 85th Dental offers 3 different types of sedation dentistry:
Anxiolysis, also sometimes called “minimal sedation”, is a mild sedative that is taken orally. This form of sedation is designed to help patients relax while still remaining aware enough of their surroundings to answer questions and follow instructions.
Your dentist may administer anxiolysis on its own, or combine it with nitrous oxide, depending on your unique needs.
Commonly known as “laughing gas”, nitrous oxide is a mild sedative that is delivered via a nose hose. This sedative is administered continuously throughout the procedure, and your dentist will carefully monitor your levels and adjusting the flow of gas accordingly.
Nitrous oxide is proven to elevate mood, reduce anxiety, reduce pain, and generally elevate your mood.
Nitrous oxide has very few side effects, though some patients report a mild numbing or tingling sensation. This sedative is completely safe and has been used for sedation dentistry for many years.
Oral Conscious Sedation
Oral conscious sedation is a moderate form of sedation. To ensure you are appropriately sedated before your procedure begins, your dentist will give you your oral sedative in advance so you can take it before your appointment.
Oral conscious sedation, as its name suggests, does not cause sleep. Instead, it dulls the senses. Patients remain awake throughout the entire procedure, but typically don’t remember any pain, noises, smells, or other details about what happened, making it a good choice for patients with severe anxiety or dental phobias.
What About Deep Sedation?
Since 2016, general dentists have been banned from providing deep sedation or general anesthesia while also performing dental procedures. As such, West 85th Dental does not offer deep sedation or general anesthetic as part of our sedation dentistry services.
Is Sedation Dentistry Right for Me?
While patients with severe anxiety or dental phobias are one of the largest groups to ask about sedation dentistry, other types of patients can benefit as well.
You may benefit from sedation dentistry if you:
- Require a large amount of dental work.
- Have a very low pain threshold.
- Have extremely sensitive teeth.
- Have a very strong gag reflex.
- You have trouble sitting still during dental procedures.
Can Children Undergo Sedation Dentistry?
Children with severe dental anxiety, dental phobias, or who aren’t able to sit for the procedure may benefit from sedation dentistry. However, parents should consult with both their child’s dentist and their pediatrician before making a decision.
Is Anyone Not a Good Candidate for Sedation Dentistry?
Patients who are obese or have obstructive sleep apnea should consult with both their dentist and their family doctor before making a decision.
How Can I Prepare For My Appointment?
Follow Your Dentist’s Instructions Closely
Your dentist or dental team will provide you with specific instructions to follow before arriving for your appointment. What instructions they provide will depend on what type of sedation you are getting.
If you are receiving oral conscious sedation, your dental team will let you know when you should take your sedative. If you are receiving nitrous oxide (either with or without anxiolysis), your dentist will ensure you are appropriately sedated before the procedure begins.
Book Time Off
Regardless of which type of sedation you receive, you will likely be drowsy after your appointment. As such, you should not plan on returning to work or school for the rest of the day, and you should limit your activities until the sedation has completely worn off.
Bring a Caregiver
Since you will be impaired, we require all sedation dentistry patients to bring a caregiver with them to their appointment. Sedation dentistry patients should never drive themselves home after their appointments.
If you are given oral conscious sedation, you will need to take your pill before you leave for your appointment. Since you will be impaired, you should arrange for a responsible adult to drive you both to and from your appointment.
Children who undergo sedation dentistry should be accompanied at all times by 2 responsible adults.
What Do I Need to Do After My Appointment?
Your dental team will provide you with specific instructions when you book your appointment. However, there are some general instructions we suggest for all patients.
Instructions for All Patients
Things to Avoid
Your faculties and abilities may be impaired for as long as 24 hours after your procedure. As such, do not drive, operate heavy machinery, or make any important decisions or judgements (such as decisions about your health or finances) until you have returned to normal. You should not consume alcohol until your sedative has completely worn off.
On Your Way Home
Many patients are unsteady on their feet following sedation dentistry. As such, you should have someone help you in and out of the car and assist you when going up or down stairs.
Until the sedative has completely worn off, you should avoid standing up quickly. If you lie down, make sure you sit up slowly, then swing your legs around and stand up slowly. This helps you avoid a sudden drop in blood pressure, which can cause dizziness and increase your chances of falling.
Patients Who Received Local Anesthetic
If you received local anesthetic during your appointment, your ability to accurately judge hot and cold will be impaired. As such, you should refrain from consuming very hot food or drinks such as coffee, tea, and hot soup until the numbness has completely worn off. This will help ensure you don’t burn yourself.
Instructions for Children & Their Caregivers
Sedation can leave us feeling strange and can cause us to chew the inside of our cheeks, our tongues, and our lips. Because our ability to judge pain is also impaired, this chewing can cause serious damage.
Children are particularly likely to chew, so they should be supervised by a responsible adult until the sedation has completely worn off.
What If I Experience an Unusual Reaction?
If you or your child experiences any unusual or unexpected reactions, you should contact our office immediately at (587) 317-4081. If our office is closed, proceed to your nearest drop-in clinic or emergency room.
What Should I Do If I Have More Questions?
Our team is always here to help. If you have any questions about sedation dentistry in general, or what to expect before, during, or after your sedation dentistry appointment, please contact our office at (587) 317-4081 or [email protected].