Some dental procedures are painful and uncomfortable. Sedation dentists perform procedures that keep patients comfortable during those procedures. Sedation dentistry is also for people that suffer anxiety during dental treatments. It keeps you comfortable and relaxed during lengthy dental procedures. Sedation dentistry offers a wide range of treatment options for dental patients, including intravenous sedation (IV), nitrous oxide, and oral conscious sedation. Dentists offering sedation services require proper training and experience. If you are undergoing a dental procedure in Whittier, CA, you could also consider sedation dentistry. We offer quality and affordable all-inclusive dental services at The Whittier Dentist for you and your loved ones.

What Sedation Dentistry Is All About

The trip to a dentist creates a lot of anxiety in many people, young and old alike. Children and some adults are afraid and anxious to visit a dentist, even for a routine checkup. Sedation dentistry creates a feeling of calmness and relaxation, making the dentist's work much more manageable. Sedation dentistry involves moderate sedation. Thus, you are mostly awake during the procedure but cannot feel the discomfort or pain. The kind of sedation offered is called conscious sedation or twilight sleep. It creates short-term amnesia, whereby the patient experiences temporary insensitivity to the pain in the tooth without going to sleep or losing consciousness.

Sedation dentistry is for you if the thought of having a tooth extracted or your teeth cleaned brings tension to your entire body. Some people prefer to endure pain, sensitivity, and other dental-related problems rather than visiting a dentist's office. If you struggle with fear of the unknown every time you think of dental treatment, your dentist has the solution to all your worries and anxieties.

Sedation dentistry aims to calm the minds of children who avoid dentists. Some dental procedures are painful, uncomfortable, and quite invasive for youngsters. After sedation, your child can start looking forward to your visits to the dentist's office. Fortunately for you, there are all kinds of procedures based on the severity of a patient's fear.

Dentists use medication to relax their patients during dental treatments. The various levels of sedation in this industry include:

  • Minimal sedation whereby you remain awake but relaxed throughout the treatment
  • Moderate or conscious sedation that leaves you partially awake through the procedure — it slurs your words when you speak, but you will not be able to remember much of what you went through.
  • Deep sedation whereby you remain awake but are on the edge of consciousness
  • General anesthesia, whereby you remain unconscious throughout the procedure

Patients That Require Sedation Dentistry

Sedation dentistry is not for all dental patients. Some people can remain relaxed throughout certain dental processes. But, your dentist can suggest sedation under specific circumstances. Sedation benefits all manner of dental patients, including minors. You could be a beneficiary if you:

Experience Dental Anxiety

Anxiety occurs when you experience stress about a specific situation. It comes from excessive and all-consuming feelings that interfere with decision-making. People who experience dental anxiety are likely to avoid or delay dental treatment. Your dentist will recommend dental sedation if the cause of your fear is drills, needles, or even a dental office setting.

Fear Visiting a Dental Office

Odontophobia or dentophobia is the extreme fear of visiting a dental office. Your fear could stem from many emotions, including worrying about your oral health. Some people experience fear due to a previous bad experience. A little assurance from your dentist can ease your fear and enable you to remain relaxed throughout the treatment.

You Have Over Sensitive Gag Reflex

If you have an overly sensitive gag reflex, your dentist can recommend sedation for your subsequent treatment. It could result from many factors, including acid reflux, anxiety, or postnasal drip. Swallowing pills or even a trip to a dental office can be challenging for people experiencing overactive gag reflexes.

You Have Aichmophobia or Fear of Sharp Objects

The dental office is usually full of sharp objects, including needles. That could be a problem for people who experience aichmophobia. The intense fear of sharp objects is an anxiety disorder that could make you avoid places or situations where objects like those will be in use. Sedation dentistry is recommended to calm you down when you must undergo a dental procedure.

You Experience Extreme Sensitivity

People experiencing extreme sensitivity on one or more teeth will likely avoid situations that could trigger the sensitivity. The extreme sensitivity you experience could be because your tooth roots are exposed to worn-out enamel. Gum disease and chipped or cracked teeth could be other causes of tooth sensitivity. Sedation assures you of zero sensitivity, minimal pain, and discomfort when undergoing a dental procedure.

You Can Not Control Movement

Some people are unable to control their body movements in situations where they are required to remain calm and relaxed. For instance, children are generally restless and continuously fidget when undergoing a dental procedure. Sedation calms down patients like these to make the work easier for the dentist and ensure that nothing wrong happens during the process.

You Have Special Needs

Special needs dental patients have difficulties following instructions or remaining calm during dental procedures. If you or your child has special needs, your dentist will recommend sedation to ensure your treatment will succeed.

You Have Claustrophobia

Claustrophobia is an intense fear of enclosed spaces. Some people experience claustrophobia even when sitting on a chair. Those people will likely have difficulties relaxing on a dental chair. The fear intensifies when a dentist stands over you to work on your mouth. Sedation helps dental patients that experience all manner of phobias, including claustrophobia. It will help you remain calm and less stressed until the end of the procedure.

Sedation Options in Dentistry

Sedation dentistry offers various levels of sedation according to patients' needs. Dentists offer most or all options to ensure that all their patients receive the care and treatment they require for improved oral health. When choosing a type of sedation for you, your dentist will consider your anxiety level, how long your treatment procedure will take, personal preference, and health history. Remember that what works for another patient will not necessarily work for you. Here are the most popular options for people who require or prefer sedation for one reason or the other:

Nitrous Oxide

Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, is pretty common in sedation dentistry. Your dentist makes you inhale it through a nosepiece or mask for a calming effect. You experience calmness pretty fast, at least within three minutes of inhaling the gas. Dentists control the gas their patients receive at a given time. They adjust dosages throughout the treatment process. Once your procedure is over, the dentist will give you oxygen to neutralize the sedation in your system.

Note that nitrous oxide leaves a patient's system very quickly. Thus, patients undergoing this type of sedation can resume normal functioning immediately after treatment. You should be able to drive home and care for yourself until completely healed.

Many dentists and patients use nitrous oxide for other sedation options because it is easy and fast to administer. You only need to inhale the gas to remain calm and relaxed throughout the treatment. This sedation method is not unpleasant since it has no odor or taste.

Nitrous oxide can also relieve you of any anxiety or fear you could be experiencing right before a dental procedure. Its effects are also pretty mild since it wears out quickly. Thus, it is generally very safe for most dental patients.

However, some patients could be uncomfortable wearing a mask used to administer the sedation. It could be a challenge if you experience problems breathing through the mask.

Oral Conscious

In this type of sedation, the dentist will give you medication, mostly in the form of a pill, to relax you before undergoing a dental procedure. Sedation is given at least an hour before the treatment to allow it time to work. The most popular medication for this type of sedation is triazolam from the diazepam family. Some dentists use other medicines, depending on what is readily available in your location. Liquid medications are available for pediatric dentistry, like midazolam syrup.

Oral sedation makes you feel dizzy, relaxed, and sometimes sleepy. However, you will be able to communicate with your dentist throughout the procedure.

This sedation can affect your motor skills and memory. Thus, you will not remember much of what will happen during the procedure. For that same reason, you will need someone with you that will drive you home and take care of you until the sedation wears out entirely from your system.

But, inform your dentist if you are on any medications or are allergic to any medication before receiving oral sedation. Some medicines do not interact well, which could be dangerous if the sedation causes a reaction. Also, ensure that your dentist knows of any health complications you could have. Most dentists will require your medical history before recommending any treatment, including sedation.

Intravenous Sedation (IV)

IV sedation is dentistry's most popular, and the deepest type of conscious sedation. It is a type of sedation administered through IV, whereby your dentist delivers a sedative directly to the blood through an IV. After an IV sedation, you will require close observation throughout your treatment. Thus your dentist will check your blood pressure, oxygen levels, and heart rate during the treatment. If you need more or less sedation in the middle of the procedure, your dentist can easily adjust the levels.

IV sedation puts you to sleep and keeps you up to the end of the procedure. Thus, you will have minimal or zero memory of the entire process when you wake up. IV option is mainly for patients that experience severe anxiety right before a dental procedure or for long dental procedures.

IV sedation will also significantly reduce any discomfort or pain you could experience during dental treatment. It allows the treatment process to go on faster since you will relax, allowing your dentist to work more quickly.

But, it could be more expensive than the two options above. Most insurance companies do not cover sedation, meaning you will be required to pay the high cost out of your pockets.

Again, IV sedation leaves you impaired for an hour or more after the procedure. Your dentist will not allow you to drive home. Thus, it would be best if you made arrangements to go home after treatment. You will also need care before sedation completely removes your system.

General Anesthesia

General anesthesia puts you in a state of unconsciousness, whereby you do not feel or remember anything during a treatment procedure. It keeps you still up to the end of the procedure. It is also done in some situations in dentistry.

Dentists recommend general anesthesia for young children and people with special needs or for people that experience severe anxiety. The patient does not move throughout the treatment process, allowing the dentist to perform the procedure with minimal interruption.

But dentists require specialized and advanced training to administer general anesthesia. In some cases, they call in an anesthesiologist. The anesthesiologist will observe you throughout the treatment process, ensuring you remain safe until the anesthesia wears out.

General anesthesia is a little more complicated than other sedation options offered in dentistry. Dental offices must have special monitoring and emergency equipment to ensure that patients undergoing anesthesia are completely safe.

Preparing for Sedation Dentistry

Proper preparation is necessary before undergoing any medical procedure. It relaxes you throughout the process and ensures you are physically and mentally ready for the process. That should be the same for sedation dentistry.

Talk to your dentists about your fears if you are about to undergo a dental procedure and are feeling anxious or afraid. Your dentist will mention the various sedation options available for your situation, explain how they are administered, and the risk factors. Dentists will ensure that their patients have the necessary information to make informed decisions whenever there is a chance.

Your dentist will discuss the oral issue you are experiencing, your health and medical history, and any medications and supplements you could be taking at that moment. By gathering relevant information, your dentist will ensure that the sedation options they recommend to you will be safe and effective for your situation. The sedation options your dentist will recommend will meet your specific needs.

Your dentist will then ask you not to drink or eat anything for six hours or before undergoing the procedure if you have medications you take routinely, and your dentist will tell you whether or not to take them right before the procedure.

Your dentist will administer sedation before the dental procedure. Once the sedative starts working, you will also receive local anesthesia to numb your gums and teeth.

If your preferred sedation option is nitrous oxide, you can drive to and from the dental office without assistance. But other sedation options require having a friend or relative with you after the dental procedure. Generally, you will be expected to go home after your treatment to relax and rest until you can resume your daily tasks.

The Benefits of Sedation Dentistry

Sedation dentistry brings a lot of benefits to dental patients and dentists, including the following:

Relieves Anxiety

It is the most positive aspect of sedation dentistry. Most dental patients are nervous about dental treatments and procedures. Sedation dentistry enables them to sit comfortably and go through even the longest procedures without interruptions. Sedation takes care of the major reason why many people avoid dental offices even when they have treatment needs.

Anterograde Amnesia

While amnesia is considered bad in most situations, it could be pleasant in dentistry. Most people who experience phobia or anxiety about dental offices or procedures could have undergone unpleasant situations in their childhood. Their fear grows every time they visit a dental office. Sedation dentistry gives patients new and better experiences that could enable them to recreate memories, replacing the old unpleasant ones with fresh and better memories.

It Reduces Gag Reflex

Some people have highly sensitive gag reflexes. Others will experience a gag reflex at the mere thought of a dentist working on their mouth.

A gag reflex will hinder the treatment process. It could be challenging if the dentist requires you to go deeper into your oral cavity. Sedation dentistry reduces these incidents, allowing the patient to remain calm regardless of what is happening inside their mouth.

It Relieves Pain

The commonest symptom of an oral problem is pain. Most patients fear that they will experience more pain when seeking treatment for a painful tooth, gum, or jawbone. Sedation relieves you of any pain you could be experiencing before the procedure and that you could experience during treatment. It keeps the pain away even after treatment, and then your dentist will give you pain medication to manage pain at home.

It Allows Your Dentist to Work Faster

Interruptions in between your treatment could prolong the procedure and even result in more visits to the dentist's office. The last thing anyone wants is to keep visiting their dentist for the same problem. It will cost you more time and money and leave you dreading future dentist visits.

Sedated patients remain seated and calm through treatment procedures, even during long dental treatments. It allows the dentist enough time to work on your issue once and for good.

Risks and Complications

Sedation dentistry is generally very safe when offered by a skilled healthcare provider. Licensed dentists have proper training and experience. Therefore, always choose your dentist wisely.

But, there could be risk factors and complications with sedation dentistry that affect some patients. Some of the short-term risks you could experience include:

  • Dry mouth or xerostomia
  • Lingering drowsiness
  • Difficulties in predicting the outcome or effect of a particular sedation option
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Headaches
  • Bruises from the IV line

It is also a challenge for patients to predict the adverse effects of oral sedation. Some people have experienced allergic reactions, though available medications could interact with that.

Sedation is meant to be safe for children as well. But, parents are usually skeptical when their children are required to take an unfamiliar medication. Some parents have reported side effects after their children underwent sedation dentistry, though symptoms experienced by children are usually mild and short-lived. Common side effects of sedation on children are:

  • Smoking
  • Irritability
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fever

Some children do not wake up right after the treatment process. If that happens to your child, your dentist can monitor the child until you are ready to drive home. Other effects are normal and mild and should disappear on their own in a maximum of two days.

Remember that sedation is not recommendable for expectant mothers. Some sedation medications could affect the development of your unborn child. Nitrous oxide is usually safe to inhale during the second trimester, but only in specific situations. But, most dentists prefer to wait until a mother delivers her child before offering sedation dentistry.

Recovering After Sedation Dentistry

Your recovery after sedation will depend on several factors, including the sedation option and how long your dental treatment took. Bodies also react differently to different medications. Generally, you will recover within 15 to 30 minutes if you receive nitrous oxide sedation. Thus, you can safely drive home after the treatment. However, recovering from IV or oral conscious sedation could take longer. Your dentist will recommend at least 24 hours of complete rest to allow you to recover fully from the sedation.

Find a Competent Dentist Near Me

Are you or your loved one in Whittier anxious, afraid, or simply nervous about a dental procedure you are about to undergo?

The Whittier Dentist offers sedation dentistry to keep you calm and relaxed through any dental procedure. It also takes away any pain or discomfort for an entirely positive experience. Our services offer benefits to all people, including the young and old. Our competent dentists will explain to you the available options, study your medical and health history and consider your preference before administering any sedation. Call us at 562-632-1223 for quality and affordable dental services. Our goal is to restore your oral health, smile, and improve your overall well-being.