It’s normal for anyone to feel a certain amount of fear or anxiety when about to undergo an event that has never been undergone before. The same goes for dental procedures.
Dental procedures are generally characterised by anxiety, prior dental trauma, and belonephobia (fear of needles and sharp instruments). Most patients are so anxious about what they would expect during their dental procedure, especially in terms of pain. Luckily, major and complex dental procedures and oral surgeries can be performed nowadays with little or no discomfort to the patient. Thanks to the modern anaesthesia technology that makes this possible.
The anaesthesia technology helps in reducing the memory, the sights, or the smells of the dental office so as to avoid the recall of any dental trauma. More so, the sedative effect of the anaesthesia makes it possible for more dentistry and complex procedures to be completed within fewer appointments.
During dental surgery, local anaesthesia, such as Novocaine, can be administered to numb the surgical area. This local anaesthesia can be used either by itself or together with any of these: Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas); oral pre-medication (conscious sedation); or intravenous sedation (twilight sleep). With anaesthesia, most patients reported that their oral surgical processes were remarkably free of anxiety and pain!
Generally, sedation dentistry covers all the different techniques used during dental procedures to either make patients more relaxed and comfortable or to calm them down prior to and during the procedure. Actually, sedation dentistry is not a part of the pain management administered by the dentist during dental procedures but numbing agents and shots. However, for patients who can quickly get frightened by numbing agents and shot in their gums, they can be calmed down by the use of sedation dentistry to a point where they would no longer be frightened by the numbing agents and shot.
Laughing gas is a very popular sedative received before some dental procedures and most patients are familiar with it. However, there are more complex dental sedatives than just the laughing gas for patients who fear and feel anxiety at the thought of receiving dental treatments or mere visiting the dental office.
With some certain dental sedatives, patients may not even remember undergoing any dental procedure, even though they are awake for the procedure.
Types of Sedation Dentistry
There are basically 4 types of sedation dentistry: Local Anaesthesia, Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas), Oral Pre-medication (pills), and Intravenous Sedation.
The local anaesthesia is also known as novocaine and is used during most mild dental treatments. Mostly, local anaesthesia is administered in the form of an injection to temporarily numb the treatment area. It prevents the nerve fibres around the tooth/teeth area from transmitting impulses. The local anaesthesia is the only known stand-alone anaesthesia which can completely eliminate pain when used alone.
However, it is possible to use the local anaesthesia together with other types of sedation dentistry to further reduce the patient’s anxiety and awareness during the dental procedure.
Nitrous Oxide (Laughing Gas)
Nitrous oxide is the lightest form of conscious sedation dentistry. The gas is administered through inhalation using a nasal mask al through the dental procedure. Nitrous oxide is a very short-acting sedative and being a gas, it completely wears off from the body a few minutes after being turned off. This enables the patient to quickly regain consciousness and leave the dental office without the need for an escort since Nitrous Oxide leaves no hang-over effect.
More so, laughing gas can be regulated by the patient. For instance, a patient simply needs to breathe in the gas more deeply and frequently to feel more of its sedative effects. On the other hand, a patient who wants to feel less of its effects only needs to breathe in through your mouth. Sometimes, nitrous oxide is enough to make some patients relax and no other form of sedation dentistry is required. Some other patients may need nitrous oxide together with other oral sedation.
Finally, there is little or no cost associated with the use of laughing gas in most cases i.e. its effect is very mild. The only major shortcoming with nitrous oxide is that it is only slightly effective at reducing anxiety and awareness even at its peak of effectiveness and not eradicating pain completely.
Oral pre-medication are also referred to as conscious sedation is the next step up in sedation dentistry. Oral pre-medication are pills, which are taken in the prescribed dose before the dental procedure. Some examples of oral pre-medication include Valium, Ativan, and Halcion. Oral pre-medication can either be taken a night prior to the procedure or an hour before the procedure depending on the severity of the dental case, otherwise, it should be taken as instructed by the dentist. Whichever the case may be, the patient must be accompanied to and from the dental office.
Oral pre-medication is more effective than Nitrous Oxide, it is inexpensive to administer, and the onset and effectiveness of its action are unpredictable.
Though patients are usually awake during the dental procedure with this sedation dentistry, they can hardly remember anything that happened during the dental procedure – some may remember very little.
In some cases, patients under oral pre-medication sedation may be fitted to a machine that monitors their breathing, blood pressure, and heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing. Oral pre-medication normally makes patients feel sleepy. However, this effect wears off after a day, more reason why the patient needs to be accompanied by either a friend or family member to and fro the dental office.
This sedation dentistry is also known as twilight sedation or general anaesthesia according to variations. In twilight sedation, the patient is conscious but unaware of his or her surroundings. While general anaesthesia, which is relatively uncommon and are mostly administered during a significant oral surgery or when a patient is resistant to other types of sedation, leaves the patient totally unconscious. Intravenous sedation puts the patient in a safe, relaxed, calm, and comfortable state during the dental procedure.
This type is the most effective of all sedation dentistry at reducing anxiety, fear, and awareness for dental procedures. As stated in its name, it is administered intravenously, which makes it much more effective in action.
With intravenous sedation, patients are completely unaware of the entire dental procedure in most cases. A major shortcoming with intravenous sedation is its increased cost. It also requires that the patient be accompanied by an escort to and fro the dental office. Intravenous sedation is ideal for patients who want to experience the utmost comfort during the dental procedure.
Don’t put off your next dental visit because of fear and anxiety, instead talk to your dentist today about your anxiety and fear about dental procedures. Your dentist will be able to recommend the best type of sedation dentistry that will suit your specific case. Kindly contact kindly us today to learn more about the use of sedation dentistry.