The dental profession has made great strides in making dental procedures as comfortable as possible. However, fear and anxiety remain a major concern for many. It is estimated that as many as forty million Americans avoid voluntarily seeking dental care due to these concerns. Fortunately, medications are available which can be administered to alleviate most patients’ fears, allowing them to successfully and pleasantly undergo treatment.
The three major routes by which these medications are administered in dentistry are: oral, inhalation, and intravenous (IV). Prior to treatment, an evaluation with the dentist is made to assess the patient’s overall health and specific needs. When necessary, a consultation with the patient’s physician may also be required. The three modes of sedation are not only different in their administration, but in their level of anxiety and pain control.
Oral medications are often prescribed that the patient takes prior to coming to the dental office for treatment. These sedatives (sleeping pills) are often combined with the nitrous oxide, and the patient is very relaxed and generally not aware of the treatment being provided. Since the patient is more sedated, they must have someone bring them to the office, and be with them the rest of the day. This is ideal for longer, more invasive procedures, and for patients that would rather not be aware of the dental treatment being provided.
Intravenous sedation (conscious sedation) is administered in the dental office, and the patient is extremely relaxed and unconcerned about what is going on around them. They are able to respond to commands and breathe without assistance, however the patient is unaware of the dental treatment being provided. Obviously, a responsible person is needed to be with the patient following the procedure. Typically, IV sedation is for more extensive procedures, such as the surgical removal of wisdom teeth. It is the most effective method of gaining predictable and adequate sedation in nearly all patients.
It has been suggested that you have an evaluation with one of the general dentists that have had additional training in advanced sedation techniques. They will further discuss your particular needs and make suggestions for your treatment.