DENTAL SEDATION MAKES ANY PROCEDURE PAINLESS
A third of American adults don’t have a dentist they see at least once a year. Many of them avoid going out of fear that pain might be involved and the result can be irreparable damage.
The good news is that there are solutions for those who have trouble getting numb, those who have an overactive gag reflex, a fear of needles, or dental procedure noises, someone who has TMJ that makes it hard to keep the mouth open for an extended period without discomfort, and those who need several treatments or a complicated procedure that would ideally be completed at one sitting.
SOOTHING SEDATION CHOICES
Oral sedation is available in pill form of a mild dose of a benzodiazepine, which targets fear and anxiety centers in the brain and induces relaxation
A stronger formula produces drowsiness and even sleep. Mild and robust forms should not be taken within a few hours of drinking alcohol (because it is a central nervous system depressant like alcohol and could cause blood pressure to drop and breathing to decrease). A ride home should be arranged in advance after both mild and stronger doses.
For those who want to sleep through a dental procedure, this can be provided through an intravenous (I.V.) drip.
Nitrous Oxide is also available as an inhalant through a mask for both children and adults (despite its popular name of “laughing gas,” it doesn’t cause anyone to laugh out loud). It may cause the patient to fall asleep or not remember the procedure, but most just feel very relaxed and less sensitive to pain. It is a sweet-smelling, non-irritating, colorless gas that constitutes at least 30% of a mixture with oxygen in the 50-70% range.
Nitrous Oxide has been used by dentists for many years and is especially effective at minimizing gagging. The patient should not eat for two hours before administration and it takes one to four minutes to take effect. The only major warning is for those who have a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), but those with emphysema, colds, difficulty breathing, claustrophobia, or multiple sclerosis may want to try a sample first (once stopped, the effects take a couple of minutes to wear off for most).