The Soothing Truth About Sedation Dentistry

by Dr. Edmond Suh // January - February - March 2024

A trip to the dentist often falls low on the list of favorite activities for people. The anticipation of pain and discomfort has led to the development of numerous myths surrounding dental care, deterring individuals from incorporating routine checkups into their healthcare regimen. Unfortunately, waiting until it’s too late for preventive measures can turn what could have been a pain-free experience into an uncomfortable one.

When dental issues are left unaddressed, they may escalate and turn into issues that have to be fixed with procedures that involve sedation. This approach, tailored to cater to varying levels of anxiety, has redefined the dental experience for countless patients, ensuring that oral health is prioritized without compromising comfort.

However, despite its use to alleviate stress and anxiety, oftentimes when it comes to dental procedures, the mention of sedation can evoke fear and uncertainty in some. The first question that often arises is, “Is sedation dentistry dangerous?” Contrary to common misconceptions, sedation dentistry is a routine and safe part of dental care, regularly used by specialists.

If your dentist recommends a procedure involving sedation dentistry, put the brakes on your initial myths-based fear and get to know the truth instead.

It’s Safe And Effective. Concerns about the safety of sedation dentistry persist, but advancements in techniques have significantly improved safety protocols. Licensed and trained dental professionals closely monitor patients throughout the entire process, ensuring their well-being. It’s a widely accepted and safe practice, often used for various dental procedures, including routine cleanings and complex surgeries.

It’s Not Solely For Extreme Cases. While it’s commonly misconstrued that sedation dentistry is exclusively for individuals with severe dental phobia, in reality, sedation options can be customized to address diverse anxiety levels. Whether you experience mild nervousness or severe fear, it offers customizable solutions to ensure a relaxed and stress-free dental experience. So no matter if you’re facing an extraction, a filling, wisdom teeth removal, or simply a routine checkup, the flexibility of sedation dentistry means it can be employed for a number of dental treatments.

The Truth Behind Laughing Gas. A commonly known form of sedation is laughing gas, or nitrous oxide. Many individuals wonder if dentists still use laughing gas for sedation. While this gas does induce relaxation, it no longer holds the popularity it once did, with other more advanced sedation methods now preferred.

Laughing gas relaxes patients into a state of uncaring concern, potentially making them say things they don’t mean due to the removal of internal filters. However, it’s important to note that patients are still conscious during the procedure, but the chances of talking are minimized as mouth movement is restricted, and the effects wear off quickly after treatment.

Laughing Gas Vs. Anesthesia. When considering sedation options, laughing gas administered through a tube is often requested due to its non-invasive nature. However, there are pros and cons to this form of sedation. An alternative is anesthesia in the form of IV sedation dentistry, administered through a needle. If needles don’t trigger anxiety, IV sedation provides almost immediate relaxation as the medicine goes directly into the bloodstream.

Alternatively, conscious oral sedation is another route. With this option, you will take a gentle, yet effective, prescription sedative – as it takes some time for the sedation to take effect, your doctor will give you instructions as to the exact time it should be ingested. Since it’s taken in advance of arrival to the office, it will be necessary for a companion to drive you to your appointment, as you will be relaxed and possibly drowsy upon arrival. Your doctor may provide an additional sedative, depending upon the circumstances. You can listen to music or watch movies while your dental work is completed – totally stress-free!

Understanding the benefits and disadvantages of each sedation method allows patients to make informed decisions based on their comfort levels and preferences. Your dentist can guide you through these options, ensuring a personalized and stress-free experience.

It’s Not Just For Adults. Another myth is that sedation dentistry is exclusively for adults. However, it can be a valuable option for pediatric dentistry. Children with dental anxiety or special needs may benefit from sedation, allowing them to receive the necessary dental care without fear or discomfort.

Dispelling The Myth of Costly Sedation. The fear of a hefty dental bill should never prevent anyone from seeking necessary dental procedures. Different methods of sedation cater to various budgets, and advancements in technology have made sedation ingredients more accessible and cost-effective. Patients are encouraged to discuss their financial concerns with their dentist to explore affordable options.

Sedation dentistry is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and the cost can vary depending on the chosen method. Thanks to technological advancements, sedation has become more affordable, making it accessible to a broader range of patients. Engaging in open conversations with your dentist about your concerns and financial considerations can lead to a tailored approach that suits both your oral healthcare needs and your budget.

Sedation dentistry is a reassuring option for individuals seeking a calm and comfortable dental experience. By understanding the reality of it, patients can make informed decisions that prioritize their oral health and overall well-being. It’s time to embrace the soothing truth of sedation dentistry and transform the dental experience into a positive journey toward optimal oral health.

Dr. Edmond Suh

Owner of Supremia Dentistry, located at 1711 S. Main St. in Wake Forest.