What is Sedation Dentistry?

Dental fear and anxiety is a common condition. It’s estimated that up to 40 million Americans avoid the dentist because of these fears, according to the Academy of General Dentistry

Anesthesia is administered prior to a procedure to help dull pain or sedate a nervous or anxious patient.

Types of Sedation Dentistry:

  • Local anesthesia
  • Nitrous Oxide
  • Oral sedation
  • IV or intravenous (“intra” – inside; “venous” – vein) sedation

Local Anesthesia

The most common form is local anesthesia, which numbs all or part of the mouth during dental work, but does not cause the patient to go to sleep and the effects wear off within a couple hours

Nitrous Oxide

Another common form of sedation is nitrous oxide. Nitrous oxide is a safe and effective sedative agent that is mixed with oxygen and inhaled through a small mask that fits over your nose to help you relax. Nitrous oxide, sometimes called “laughing gas,” is one option Dr. Powless may offer to help make you more comfortable and relaxed during certain procedures.

It is not intended to put you to sleep and you will be able to hear and respond to any requests or directions the dentist may have. The effects of nitrous oxide wear off soon after the mask is removed.

Oral Sedation

Another type of sedation is oral sedation. It involves the administration of an oral sedative prescription drug to reduce patients fear and anxiety related to the experience.

Oral sedatives can be taken with or without the use of nitrous oxide and local anesthesia. There is a wide range of medications that can be used for this procedure. Some common medications are Valium and Versed.

IV or Intravenous Sedation

IV or intravenous (“intra” – inside; “venous” – vein) sedation. This is the next level of sedation for patients that need a little extra relaxation for their dental care, for a comfortable, pain-free dental experience.

Today, IV sedation in dentistry allows a way to provide dental care for many patients who otherwise would not be able to receive necessary treatment. This includes the estimated 15% of the population who avoid dental care completely due to acute anxiety, and as much as 50% of the population who admit to some level of fear and apprehension when it comes to dental treatment. It also includes those patients who have medical conditions that make it necessary to reduce the level of stress during dental treatment.

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General Anesthesia

Some patients may undergo general anesthesia, in which drugs cause a temporary loss of consciousness with the assistance of a skilled Anesthesiologist at Tampa General Hospital. General anesthesia may be recommended for patients with complex medical history, or extensive dental treatment.