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How does sedation dentistry work?

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A young female child is lying on a dental chair with inhalation sedation while her dentist is checking on her teeth with a dental explorer and mirror.

Sedation dentistry has become a great option for those who find going to the dentist a bit overwhelming. Sedation dentistry is a method in which the patient is put at ease during their visit by using different levels of medication. Being open and honest with your dentist is always key as they are there to help assess your situation to choose the best option for you. 

There are many Canadians who suffer from anxiety or stress brought on by a visit to the dentist, so you are not alone. Having a solution or different options to reduce if not completely eliminate any of these feelings can change your thoughts towards your oral health. 

The dentists are here to help you assess what type of sedation is right for you. Many of the routine procedures that are done are candidates for sedation. Understanding what goes into sedation dentistry is important. Many of the more commonly sought after questions and ideas are covered in this read. 

A close-up top view of a woman holding a glass of water and a sedative pill administered by a dentist at the dental clinic.

Is there only one method of sedation? 

There are many methods of sedation. Finding out which one is right for you will ultimately be your choice, but the dentists at Riverwalk dental are always here to help you assess which is best. Being at ease during your procedure is the ultimate goal with sedation dentistry. Here are some of the most common forms of sedation for dentistry.

  • Minimal sedation- this option is for those who are just looking to be a little bit more at ease during their appointment. The sedation is typically inhaled through the nose and mouth through a gas form, usually nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas. 
  • Moderate sedation- this is a great option for those with a bit higher level of anxiety or stress associated with the dental visits. This level of sedation can be administered orally. The effects of this are a bit stronger and take longer to wear off. Patients often will slur their words with and might not remember the full details of the appointment.
  • Deep sedation- this option is for those who have severe levels of anxiety due to dental visits. Many people who receive this level of treatment will either fall asleep completely or be on the edge of falling asleep. 

With these methods of dentistry, there can be lingering after effects. Having a higher or deeper level of sedation will increase the recovery time. Based on how the sedation is administered, will determine how long it takes your body to filter through your system. Your dentist will choose the right amount of medication for your body type and explain the process to you.

What are the risks associated with sedation?

With any kind of medical procedure, there are always some form of risks. This is no different with sedation dentistry. The risks will vary based on the level of sedation that you are wanting to receive. It is always important to understand the risks beforehand and speak to your dentist if you have specific concerns or fears associated with a visit to the dentist or with sedation. Some things to think about when considering sedation:

  • How alert and awake would I like to be during the procedure?
    – For many, just being relaxed is enough to be comfortable during a dental visit. The deeper the sedation, the less alert and awake you will be. 
  • The lingering and after effects of sedation.
    With minimal sedation, the effects will not last long. Your body will be able to work through this much faster. Having a deeper sedation will take longer to wear off and you will need assistance with your visit as you will not be fully alert or awake after your appointment is done.
  • Be honest with your medical history.
    Letting your dentist know about your medical history is very important. The more that your dentist knows about any medications, allergies or symptoms that you might suffer from, will help to address which method of sedation is right for you. 

How do I know if sedation dentistry is right for me?

If you are someone who suffers from high anxiety, a lot of stress or just avoids going to the dentist because of negative feelings, sedation dentistry should be something that you consider. More than 30 percent of Canadians feel anxious about going to the dentist. Those who have experienced sedation during their dental appointments had better experiences and less stress. Sedation dentistry can help ease your anxiety and help many people have a better relationship with your dental professional. To learn more about which sedation method would work for you or to book your appointment, give the dentists at Riverwalk Dental a call! We look forward to seeing you.

Written by Dr. Brandon Scott

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