Sedation dentistry refers to the use of sedation during dental treatment. Sedation is most commonly used during extensive procedures, for patients with dental phobia or for patients who find it difficult to sit still. There are different types of sedation, including nitrous oxide (“laughing gas”), IV sedation, oral sedatives and general anesthesia.
Sedation can range from the use of nitrous oxide to calm a patient to general anesthesia used to put patients to sleep. Patients who are fearful of the dentist or those with a low pain tolerance, physical disability or strong gag reflex may require sedation. Procedures like fillings, crowns, bridges, root canals, extractions, cosmetic procedures and periodontal treatments often require sedation.
Sedation is endorsed by the American Dental Association and is an effective way to make many patients comfortable during their dental visit. Before using a sedative or anesthetic, it is important to tell your pediatric dentist about any medications or medical treatments your child is receiving. Before administering any sedative or anesthetic, your pediatric dentist will talk to you about the process of sedation and pre- and post-sedation instructions.
We offer IV Sedation and Oral Sedation in our office. Also we have hospital privileges at Inova Fair Oaks.
Nitrous oxide, more commonly known as laughing gas, is often used as a conscious sedative during a dental visit. The gas is administered with a mixture of oxygen and has a calming effect that helps phobic or anxious patients relax during their dental treatment. Because it is a mild sedative, patients are still conscious and can talk to their pediatric dentist during their visit. After treatment, the nitrous is turned off and oxygen is administered for five to 10 minutes to help flush any remaining gas. The effects wear off almost instantly. Nitrous oxide seldom has side effects, although some patients may experience minor nausea and constipation. Your pediatric dentist will provide you with pre-and post-sedation instructions.
Conscious Sedation is defined as a reduced level of consciousness, produced by pharmacological or nonpharmacologic methods or a combination.
This is a type of sedation in which the child feels completely calm and relaxed but can still breathe normally on his or her own and respond to certain stimuli. General anesthesia by contrast is the total loss of consciousness, and is therefore not considered conscious sedation.
Conscious sedation can achieve a minimal, moderate, or even deep suppression of consciousness. Minimal conscious sedation is the most commonly used for the treatment of fear and anxiety with invasive dental procedures. It allows the child to retain the ability to breathe independently and respond appropriately and normally to physical tactile stimulation and verbal commands. Minimal (which can progress to moderate) conscious sedation is commonly achieved with medication taken by mouth (orally).This administered in an office setting by a our own dentist who are specially trained and qualified in dental sedation.
General anesthesia is a controlled state of unconsciousness in which the patient will experience no discomfort. You will need a physical evaluation prior to receiving the anesthetic to ensure the safety of your child. It is extremely important to follow all instructions provided by your dentist regarding fasting for both foods and liquids.
Alhough there is some risk associated with general anesthesia, it is a safe and effective method when used by a trained professional, and your child will be monitored throughout the process. If you have any concerns, you can discuss them with your dentist prior to any procedures.