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3 Different Types of Sedation Used During Oral Surgery

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When it’s time for a big dental procedure, many of us could use a bit of relaxation. Your dentist can use sedation to make your visit easier. There are 3 different sedation options to help prevent anxiety and reduce pain. 

Whether you’re scheduled for oral surgery or are very anxious about any aspects of the dentist down to routine check-ups, you can talk to your dentist about sedation options. 

What is Sedation?

Sedation is a technique used in medicine that involves lowering a patient’s consciousness level before a procedure. Sedation is used to prevent anxiety or numb feelings of pain. The drugs used to sedate patients come in a variety of forms and administrations.

The level of consciousness you have under sedation is a spectrum, with no sedation being conscious and alert and general anesthesia being wholly unconscious and needing assistance for the heart and lungs to function properly. 

With sedation, you may not even fall asleep, and if you do, you can be roused by your dentist or their team with something as simple as a gentle shoulder shake.

What Procedures Call for Sedation?

Sedation is typically used in dentistry when conducting more extensive or time-intensive procedures, such as:

  • Bridge & crown installations
  • Dental implants
  • Wisdom teeth extraction

Some people may undergo sedation for other reasons, including:

  • A low pain threshold
  • Anything that might make a person unable to sit still during their procedure
  • have very sensitive teeth
  • Suppressing a strong gag reflex
  • Severe dental anxiety                               

Types of Sedation

Let’s take a look at the 3 most common types of sedation used in dentistry.

Gas Sedation

Gas sedation is the lightest type of sedation used in dentistry. You may have heard of it referred to as laughing gas, but its proper name is nitrous oxide. It’s administered via a mask placed over your nose and mouth.

Nitrous oxide is a colourless and odourless gas. It provides light sedative effects, such as controlling pain and reducing anxiety. The drug produces a calm, euphoric feeling (hence the nickname, laughing gas.) It’s generally only used in minor procedures.

Gas sedation offers benefits such as:

  • Quick-acting sedation
  • Easily clearing from the body
  • Being able to drive yourself to and from your appointment
  • No needles involved

Possible risks and downsides include:

  • Potential side effects like:
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Shivering
    • Sweating
  • Quick wear off time—since it is easily metabolized, it may not last as long as you need
  • Not suitable for more major procedures

Oral Sedation

Oral sedation is one of the easier dental sedatives to administer: all you need to do is take a pill. They’re often provided when a patient struggles with mild to moderate anxiety about their procedure. 

Oral sedatives may be given to you in advance of the procedure, with instructions to take the pills the morning of the appointment or the night before your visit.

Pros of oral sedation:

  • Ease of use
  • No needles involved
  • Doesn’t require special equipment, making it efficient and cost-effective

Cons of oral sedation:

  • Difficult to control dosage due to individual metabolism rates
  • Takes a while to feel the effects
  • Leaves you feeling drowsy

IV Sedation

Intravenous (IV) sedation involves having a needle placed in your arm for a continuous slow administration of a sedative to keep you unconscious throughout your procedure. IV sedation is Arch Dental’s method of choice for oral surgeries.

The benefits of IV sedation include:

  • Control over the amount of sedation
  • A steady dosage that’s easy to monitor & adjust
  • Works rapidly for less waiting time

The drawbacks include:

  • Requires close monitoring of vital signs
  • Uses needles

Side Effects of Sedation

Side effects of sedation may include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Feeling heavy or sluggish
  • Memory loss of the time while sedated
  • Slowed reflexes
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Headache
  • Nausea

With the exception of gas sedation, you’ll need to have someone transport you to and from the office, and would likely benefit from resting the remainder of the day until you’re feeling back to normal.

Sedation & Safety

Any dentist in Ontario using sedatives above a certain level in their practice must be registered with the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario. There are strict guidelines around standards of practice when it comes to sedation.

Sedation has been used in many dental practices for a long time and is part of keeping our patients happy, healthy, and comfortable. To have the safest possible procedure, be sure to follow all your dentist’s pre-appointment instructions, including fasting and disclosing any other medications you’re taking. 

Keep Calm & Relaxed at Arch Dental

We want your visit to Arch Dental to feel comfortable and want you to feel at ease in our dentist’s chair. When you book your next appointment, ask about Arch Dental’s sedation options.

Written by Arch Dental

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