Anesthesia and sedation are important in the field of dentistry. Sometimes, dental procedures can be painful or uncomfortable, and a variety of different sedatives can be used to put the patient at ease and provide analgesia. With some patients these techniques are necessary; this is either because the procedure they are undergoing is painful, or because the simple idea of the procedure causes them discomfort. Dentists often base their decision on how comfortable the patient is with the procedure, and they have a variety of different sedation options from which to choose. The three most commonly-used forms of sedation are inhalation sedation, intravenous (or IV) sedation, and oral sedation.
For inhalation sedation, nitrous oxide is the substance used. Also known as laughing gas, nitrous oxide is generally a dentist's first choice for sedation, as it has a minimal side-effect profile and wears off quickly, with few lingering after-effects. Use of nitrous oxide should not result in unconsciousness, and is considered a mild solution to the issue of sedation during dentistry.
Oral sedation usually involves the use of benzodiazepines such as Valium. A dentist can use these drugs either to induce drowsiness or to alleviate feelings of anxiety that patients often experience before and during oral procedures. Benzodiazepines also have another useful characteristic in that they induce what is known as anterograde amnesia; this means that they inhibit the ability of the brain to form memories of events experienced while under their effects. This can be helpful for people undergoing painful procedures as it will decrease their fear of returning to the dentist.
Intravenous sedation is the final technique used by dentists. Due to its nature, it results in heavy sedation, and usually puts the patient into general anesthesia, in which the patient can not be aroused, even by painful stimuli. Benzodiazepines are often used in this way, as their effects are more exaggerated when given intravenously, but in rare cases the opioid fentanyl can also be used. Generally, this is used only for very severe cases in which the patient would otherwise experience lots of pain or insurmountable anxiety, as it can result in respiratory depression and the patient will have to be cared for during the short recovery period.
Please give us a call at 409-835-6257 if you're interested in learning more about Sedation Dentistry / Pain Free Dentistry.