What is Conscious Sedation in Dentistry?
Conscious sedation is used in dentistry to help patients overcome their dental anxiety or phobias. Unlike general anesthesia, conscious sedation leaves you fully awake and aware of your surroundings. You won’t sleep through your dental work, but you will feel deeply relaxed and comfortable. Here’s what you need to know about our conscious sedation options at DDS Group.
Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, is the mildest form of conscious sedation. It has few risks or side effects, and it wears off seconds after we stop administering it, so you’ll be able to return to work after your appointment and you won’t need anyone to assist you in getting home.
A small mask is placed over your nose, and you’ll breathe in a mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen. Within minutes, you’ll feel more at ease. Some patients experience feelings of heaviness and tingling in the arms and legs, along with lightheadedness. More rarely, patients may have headaches or nausea with nitrous oxide.
Conscious Oral Sedation
We also offer conscious oral sedation at DDS Group. This is an appropriate level of sedation for patients with more severe dental anxiety. Your dentist will prescribe a sedative medication that you will take about an hour before your procedure. You may feel sleepy, but you will remain conscious.
Unlike nitrous oxide, conscious oral sedation can take a few hours to wear off, so you’ll need to arrange for someone to drive you home. We recommend taking the rest of the day off of work to relax if you choose conscious oral sedation for your procedure.
Is Conscious Sedation Right For You?
Because conscious sedation has few major risks or side effects, it’s an option for almost any patient, assuming you do not have any contraindications. Some reasons you might consider conscious sedation for your treatment or procedure include:
- A severe dental phobia that has you delaying needed dental care, going years without seeing the dentist, or living with painful oral health conditions rather than making an appointment to see the dentist
- Dental anxiety, which may involve apprehension about dental visits and feelings of nervousness or panic when thinking about dental procedures
- A prior bad experience with a dentist has left you feeling fearful of getting dental work
- Extensive dental work
- Fear of needles
- A sensitive gag reflex, making dental work difficult to tolerate
- Difficulty controlling movements, as with cerebral palsy or Parkinson’s disease
- Hypersensitive teeth
In addition, young children and patients with special needs may need conscious sedation to help them get through their procedures without trauma or anxiety.
During your consultation or before your appointment, we’ll discuss your options for sedation. It’s also important to note that sedation is always paired with local anesthesia, which ensures that you’re both relaxed and comfortable throughout your procedure. For many patients, local anesthesia and the gentle, understanding care of our dentists is enough to help them feel relaxed at our office, but if you need the additional help of sedation dentistry, you can feel confident knowing that it’s a safe, effective option.