Sedation is a common practice in many hospital settings but is not frequently associated with dental care or oral health. Unlike the deep sedation associated with medical procedures, the level of sedation used in dental care is typically low. It focuses more on creating feelings of safety and comfort than removing sensation entirely, as is the case in general anesthesia.

What exactly is sedation dentistry?

Sedation Dentistry: An Overview

Sedation dentistry has become a more popular form of dentistry in pediatric dentistry and adult dentistry. Dental anxiety is a common issue in both children and adults, and sedation dentistry allows dentists and patients to experience comfort and a sense of safety during dental procedures.

Sedation dentistry is often confused with sleep dentistry, but the two are not synonymous. Sedation dentistry involves using a mild sedative to undergo dental work, rather than using a local anesthetic (or in addition to using a local anesthetic).

What kind of sedation do dentists use?

There are several different types of sedation found in dental offices, though the most common form of sedation is nitrous oxide (also called laughing gas). Nitrous oxide is a gas that is delivered via an oxygen mask placed over the nose.

Nitrous oxide does not put patients under, but instead creates a sense of safety and calm and eliminates the pain associated with dental procedures. Dentists may also utilize outpatient anesthesia for cases with more significant sedation needs.

What can you expect during dental sedation?

When nitrous oxide is the sedation agent, you can expect to have a mask placed over your nose. This mask relieves pain and creates a feeling of calm and safety. Some patients may feel as though their arms and legs are heavy and may feel a “settling” in their mind and body. Ultimately, the goal of nitrous oxide is to eliminate sensations of pain while encouraging feelings of calm and relaxation.

Why Sedation Helps

Although not every dental visit requires sedation, sedation dentistry can be helpful in numerous applications. Very young children, people with dental anxiety, individuals with special needs, and patients sure to experience pain (who might have a fear of needles) can all benefit from sedation dentistry. Without some form of sedation, many patients are not able to receive the dental care that they need.

Dental Anxiety

Dental anxiety is unfortunately common in children and adults. Anxiety can create feelings of restlessness, fear, and agitation while in a dentist’s chair. Sedation dentistry eliminates these feelings and allows people with moderate and severe dental anxiety to undergo dental procedures like filling cavities without experiencing a panic attack or other overt sensations of anxiety and fear.

Special Needs

Patients with special needs often have sensory issues that make dental visits extremely difficult. The loud buzzing of drills, the vibration of dental tools, and the sensation of laying back in a chair for extended periods can all cause issues for the patient in question and the dentist or hygienist. Sedation helps soothe the symptoms of sensory issues and can make the patient comfortable enough to undergo any necessary procedures.

Pain Elimination

Sedation can be used to soothe fears and sensory issues, but it can also be used to “knock out” sensations of pain or discomfort. While it is standard to numb using a shot, many dental patients have a fear of needles or are wary of the pain of the numbing shot. Nitrous oxide can help these patients undergo dental procedures or examinations without undue pain and the fear that often accompanies pain.

Sedation Dentistry in Statesville

Sedation dentistry is a valuable tool in the proverbial toolbelt of our pediatric dental office in Statesville, NC. We offer laughing gas as part of our dental services for our pediatric patients who may suffer from dental anxiety or fear of needles, or simply struggle to remain in the dental chair. Schedule an appointment with our office today!