What Is Sedation Dentistry?

Your mouth is a highly sensitive part of the body. An estimated 30–40% of your body’s entire sensory and motor nerves run through the mouth and the face. This also means that dental work can be incredibly painful.

Thankfully, we have access to modern drugs that numb the pain and make everything as comfortable as possible. Sedation dentistry focuses on helping dental patients receive treatments without going through any kind of pain or discomfort.

Apart from numbing the pain, sedation dentistry techniques can also help you feel calm and relaxed. For best results, a dentist needs the patient in a relaxed state of mind during the entire procedure. If you are nervous and twitchy, it can lead to accidental injuries.

At Dr. Wilhite’s Plano, TX dental office, you have access to all modern sedation dentistry options. Based on your oral health status and personal preferences, the doctor and his staff will decide the ideal solution to keep you relaxed and painless through your dental procedure.

The Main Sedation Dentistry Options

In modern dental practice, you will generally find four different types of sedation. Some of these can be mixed together, while others are standalone anesthetic procedures. They all have unique pros and cons.

Local Anesthetic

Lidocaine is the most common pain-numbing medication used by dentists. It is often injected near the surgery area, into your gums. While that may sound painful, it’s not – the dentist will first apply a numbing cream to the area so that you don’t feel a thing when the needle is injected.

However, this may be a very unpopular option for many patients who suffer from a fear of needles. Plus, the loss of sensation in your mouth and jaw can last a few hours.

Some patients may also suffer allergic reactions to pain medication, but this is exceedingly rare. Local anesthesia is suitable for most dental procedures, including dental fillings, dental crowns, tooth extractions, root canal treatments, and other dental treatments.

Nitrous Oxide

The so-called “laughing gas” is a crowd favorite at dental offices and for good reason. It is fast-acting, makes you feel happy and relaxed in the dental chair, and does not require any scary injections. All you need to do is keep breathing a mixture of oxygen and nitrous oxide.

Laughing gas is suitable for procedures like root canal treatments, scaling, planning, and other types of teeth cleaning procedures. In more painful procedures, like dental fillings and certain extractions, you will need a stronger anesthetic.

Due to its relatively harmless nature (minimal side effects), nitrous oxide is often used alongside other anesthetic procedures to help keep the patient calm and happy. If you are only using nitrous oxide, you may drive a car after the procedure as the effects wear off very quickly.

Oral Sedation

In this form of sedation, the sedative medications are delivered in pill form. Popular options for oral conscious sedation include drugs like Valium and Xanax. You will have to take the pill several hours before going to the dentist.

Oral conscious sedation is a popular option in pediatric dentistry and when dealing with adults who have dental anxiety. While you will remain conscious, this type of sedation can be disorienting and you will not be able to drive for at least a few hours.

Intravenous (IV) Sedation

There are several different options in IV sedation dentistry, with varying levels of action. Some will leave you feeling numb and sleepy, while others put you to sleep for the duration of the procedure (also called general anesthesia).

Many patients prefer general anesthesia or sleep dentistry as they don’t want to experience the dental procedure as it happens. But IV sedation dentistry is also associated with the most adverse side effects and allergies.

Dr. Wilhite will only suggest general anesthesia after checking your current health status, medical history, and any allergies to anesthetics. He may also prescribe oral sedatives like diazepam to help you relax and better prepare for dental treatment.

Is Sedation Dentistry the Right Option for You?

The only times when you don’t need any form of sedation is when you are taking dental x-rays or during routine dental cleanings. For most other treatment procedures at a dentist’s office, you absolutely need some form of sedation.

Now, the important question is finding the safest option for each patient. This will vary widely depending on the following factors:

  • Age of the patient
  • Pain threshold and comfort level with needles and so on
  • Any fear of dentists due to past experiences
  • Current health status and medical condition
  • History of allergies to anesthetics or painkillers
  • Oral sensitivity levels

Dr. Wilhite and his team will work closely with you to select the optimal sedation dentistry option for an anxiety-free experience. To learn more about sedation dentistry options available at Dr. Wilhite’s Plano, TX office, give us a call at 972-964-3774.

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