Sedation DentistryIf the mere thought of seeing a dentist makes you quiver with fear, you’re not alone! Around 15% of Americans have experienced very similar feelings to you, even though modern dentistry is more comfortable than ever before. In fact, here at McLoughlin Dental Care, we’re sad to think anyone could ever find us scary as we strive to ensure everybody who visits us enjoys a pleasant, stress-free and pain-free visit. However, we also know a great chair-side manner isn’t enough for some people who will actively avoid dental care until the discomfort becomes too much to bear. This is where conscious sedation dentistry can help tremendously.

Who Should Have Conscious Sedation?

Anyone who actively avoids dental visits or who finds them extremely difficult to cope with may want to consider conscious sedation. The treatment can remove much of the anxiety, so dental visits become much more comfortable and more relaxing. Conscious sedation can be utilized for anything, from a simple dental cleaning or filling to more complex and lengthier treatments. It is a technique that can be very beneficial for people with a strong gag reflex and who struggle to comfortably receive dental treatment and especially when a dental impression or x-rays are needed. You might want to choose this option if you have very sensitive teeth, or even if you find it difficult to sit still in the dental chair. Conscious sedation can help patients of all ages including children and people with special needs.

What Is Conscious Sedation?

Conscious sedation uses medication to help people feel more relaxed during dental procedures. You will still be awake and able to communicate with our dentist Dr. Donald Nimz and our dental team, but you will feel much less anxious and nervous. The level of sedation provided can range from minimal sedation to more moderate sedation or even deep sedation. Possible options include oral sedation, given in the form of a pill shortly before treatment, to intravenous sedation administered continuously through a vein. However, one of the most popular and safest types of dental sedation is nitrous oxide1 or laughing gas, and it can be suitable for patients who might not be able to have other forms of sedation like general anesthesia safely. Nitrous oxide is colorless and sweet-smelling, so it is pleasant to use. Originally, nitrous oxide was used during a tooth extraction way back in 1844, so it has an extremely long history and is a tried and tested method of conscious sedation.

Why Choose Laughing Gas?

Laughing gas is excellent for anybody with a fear of needles because you simply inhale the gas through a small, comfortable mask fitted over your nose. Nitrous oxide takes effect within a few seconds, helping you to relax. The sensation provided by nitrous oxide has been likened to feeling like you’re floating or are mildly euphoric, and you may notice a slight tingling in your hands and feet which shows the sedation is working properly. No treatment is provided until we are sure you feel calm and comfortable, and that the correct dosage of nitrous oxide is administered. Nitrous oxide isn’t an analgesic, so you will almost certainly still need a local anesthetic, but even if you are afraid of injections, you’ll find you won’t mind because you’re feeling so deeply relaxed. Additionally, it’s important to remember that modern techniques for administering dental injections provide a far more comfortable experience and usually, a numbing gel is used on the gum to minimize discomfort further.

During treatment, you will still be able to speak to us, and you’ll always know what’s going on around you. This means you will still be in control during treatment which can be enormously reassuring for many nervous people. Often, a common fear is lack of control. The amount of nitrous oxide provided is continually monitored during your treatment so we can ensure you always receive the correct amount of sedation and can fine tune it to meet your needs, increasing or decreasing the nitrous oxide as needed.

Once treatment is over, the nitrous oxide is turned off and the amount of oxygen administered is sometimes increased. Your body soon eliminates the nitrous oxide so you will be back to normal in no time, and most people only require a few minutes rest in the dental chair. Nitrous oxide is the only form of conscious sedation where you can drive yourself home after the procedure. Afterward, you shouldn’t feel any ill-effects from the laughing gas.

Is It Safe?

Any form of sedation carries a small level of risk, but you can rest assured we do everything possible to reduce any sort of risk to you. Before you can have conscious sedation, Dr. Nimz will need to review your complete medical history, and it is critical that we know the details of all non-prescription and prescription medications. Conscious sedation may not be advisable if you are pregnant, if you have pulmonary disease, or if you are prescribed certain drugs. We would only recommend conscious sedation if we feel it’s safe and appropriate for you.

Because nitrous oxide is such as safe and tried and tested form of oral sedation, you can almost certainly rely on it as being suitable for you. It’s beneficial to know that you can comfortably receive any dental treatment required to maintain good oral health. Of course, we hope that gradually you can overcome your fears and anxieties and especially because we strive to provide every patient with a positive experience during each visit. We also take enormous pride in building up good relationships with our patients based on mutual trust and respect.

If you do suffer from dental fear and anxiety and it’s been a while since you saw a dentist, please don’t worry because we are here to help you. All you need do is pick up the phone and talk to our friendly dental team. We’ve helped lots of people in the past and are always extremely compassionate toward anyone with dental fears. Let us know how you feel because then we can plan the best way to assist you, helping you to comfortably gain and maintain the beautiful, healthy smile you desire and deserve.