Many people have had bad experiences at the dentist which affect their ability to have the dental work done. Often these experiences have occurred in childhood and they linger today. Dentistry has changed significantly in the way care is delivered. Local anesthetics are more effective and topical anesthetic is used to numb the area before local anesthetic is even given. Procedures are completed more efficiently and with less pain.
Despite the advances, bad experiences and fear are hard to overcome and many patients like the idea of being sedated while work is being done. This is where sedation comes in. Sedation ranges from the use of laughing gas to being completely asleep during a procedure.
While you are having your dental work completed you will breathe laughing gas through a nasal mask. The concentration is adjusted so that you are relaxed and feel like you are floating. You aren't asleep; rather you are "zoned-out".
You're able to answer questions and recall the entire procedure. When the procedure is finished you will breathe oxygen for a few minutes and return to feeling completely normal. You will even be able to drive yourself home.
Oral sedation uses a medication, similar to Valium, which you'll be given in the office approximately 45 minutes prior to your procedure. The dose is based on your weight and tolerance of two glasses of wine. It's crucial that you don't eat or drink within 6 hours of the procedure (water is accepted). The medication is absorbed through your stomach and the presence of food will reduce the effectiveness and may contribute to vomiting. Oral sedation, unlike laughing gas will make you feel drowsy and sleepy. You will feel quite relaxed, but will still be able to answer questions and respond to gentle nudging and voice communication.
One of the benefits of oral conscious sedation is that you won't remember the procedure while the medication is active. Your blood pressure, pulse and oxygen level are monitored during the sedation process. You won't be able to drive and are considered legally sedated for 18 hours after the medication is given. You will require a responsible adult to take you home and look after you.
This is very similar to oral conscious sedation with the addition of laughing gas. You will be given the oral medication approximately 45min prior to your procedure and allowed to relax. You will be placed on a monitor that will measure your blood pressure, pulse and oxygen level before and during the procedure. Once the procedure starts you will be given the laughing gas to breathe.
The benefit of this process is that when you are not relaxed enough the laughing gas can be adjusted to further ease anxiety and relax you. With oral sedation alone it is not possible to control your state as well as with the addition of laughing gas. This is especially beneficial for longer procedures where the oral sedative can begin to wear off and the concentration of the laughing gas can be increased to supplement and sustain relaxation. Again, you won't recall the procedure and you will be drowsy when the medication wears off.
You will be unable to drive and you are considered legally sedated for 18 hours after the medication is given. You will require a responsible adult to take you home and look after you.