Most dental procedures are done under a local anesthetic to numb pain, but knowing this fact does not help to calm the nerves of many people who have a fear of the dentist or dental anxiety. Dental anxiety is very common among all age groups, and it keeps many people from making dental appointments and suffering instead with bad teeth and gums. Dentists are aware of the widespread problem of dental anxiety, and for this reason, conscious sedation has become increasingly available in dental offices. Conscious sedation means that you can have nearly any dental procedure with the aid of a relaxing medication that will allow you to stay awake, and in some cases even be able to drive yourself home after your appointment.
Oral sedation is the use of pills before a procedure. The effect of the pills is light or moderate sedation that relaxes you and may make you feel drowsy. You will remain awake and alert during the procedure and be able to answer the dentist’s questions. The drowsy effect will probably last for a while after your appointment, so you will need a driver to take you home.
Nitrous oxide or “laughing gas” is the most commonly used method of conscious sedation in dental offices. The benefit of nitrous oxide is that even though it is very effective at relaxing you without putting you to sleep, it wears off very quickly. This is the only method of sedation that allows you to drive yourself home from your appointment.
IV sedation is sometimes used for a moderate level of sedation that allows you to remain conscious. The effect of IV sedation happens more quickly than with other conscious sedation methods.
How General Sedation Differs from Conscious Sedation
General or deep sedation puts you to sleep. This method is usually reserved for surgical or other procedures that would be too uncomfortable for the patient to stay awake through, and it is often combined with local anesthesia. If you have extreme dental anxiety, the idea of being asleep through any dental procedure may be appealing, but general sedation is not available from most dental practices because it requires special training and licensing. For the majority of patients with dental anxiety, conscious sedation offered by the Kenai Dental Clinic is very effective at calming their fears and making dental appointments much more comfortable for the uneasy.
You should not be embarrassed to admit that you have dental anxiety or to ask about conscious sedation. Dentists know the problem well and offer conscious sedation as a way to help their patients to relax. Most importantly, conquering dental fears with conscious sedation enables people to keep regular dental appointments, which keeps their teeth and gums healthy.
By Meghan Belnap
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