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If the thought of sitting in a dentist’s chair, surrounded by whirling drills, shiny instruments, and the sound of suction hoses is keeping you from getting your regular dental check-up, there’s hope for you.

Sedation dentistry is available for those that may suffer from any sort of anxiety or fear of getting dental work done. At WhiteWing Dental, our experienced and trained McAllen dentists understand exactly how to make you feel comfortable in the dentist’s office once again.

But don’t just take our word for it. Here is what you need to know about sedation dentistry.

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What is sedation dentistry?

Also known as “sleep dentistry,” sedation dentistry generally involves dentists providing a sedative drug to the patient before, or even during, a dental procedure. The aim is to relax the patient and ease any anxieties they may be experiencing in order to have a more successful operation – whether it’s a routine cleaning or more serious procedure.

Some of the sedative drugs will render the patient unconscious, like general anesthesia. Others will relax the patient while keeping them semi-conscious. They are identified in four particular levels:

  1. Minimal Sedation: Patient is awake but in a relaxed state.
  2. Moderate Sedation: Also known as conscious sedation, this type of sedation make cause slurring of speech or an inability to recall much of the procedure.
  3. Deep Sedation: This type of sedation keeps patients on the edge of consciousness while still retaining the ability to be awakened.
  4. General Anesthesia: Patient is completely unconscious.

Currently, there are four types of sedation dentistry techniques that are used in applicable dentist offices:

  1. Inhaled Minimal Sedation: Essentially, nitrous oxide and oxygen are released through a mask that is placed over the nose and inhaled by the patient. This form of sedation keeps the patient relaxed and conscious. The dentist has the ability to administer more gas if needed and the effects wear off rather quickly.
  2. Oral Sedation: This is the standard for sedation dentistry that requires the patient to take a pill—normally Halcion, a member of the same drug family as Valium—about an hour before the procedure occurs. The effects of the sedation vary depending on dosage and the work that needs to be done. A normal dose may make you feel drowsy, where a larger dose may produce moderate sedation. Some patients may remain groggy or even fall asleep during the procedure, though they can be awakened with a gentle nudge or shake.
  3. IV Moderate Sedation: With this technique, sedation is delivered through a vein, causing the effects to happen quickly. If the dentist needs to administer more, they can adjust as needed.
  4. Deep Sedation or General Anesthesia: The dentist will administer medications to the patient until they are either near or totally unconscious. This technique causes a deep sleep of sorts where the patient cannot be awakened unless given medication to reverse the effect or until the effects have subsided.

In short, sedation dentistry is a method of dentistry that helps patients endure dental procedures like root canals, tooth extractions, and dental implantation.

Who needs sedation dentistry?

Sedation dentistry is available to patients who generally suffer from any phobias related to dental work. Patients that also suffer from anxiety, perhaps from a bad experience with dental work in the past, or general anxiety disorder, may be eligible for sedation dentistry as well.

Special needs patients may also qualify for sedation dentistry. Our McAllen dentists are certified in various levels of sedation and are able to perform many dental procedures with intravenous (IV) sedation, oral sedation, or nitrous oxide for optimal patient comfort. When necessary, procedures can even be done at a local hospital for special needs patients.

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How does sedation dentistry work?

It all depends on the type of procedure you are going to undergo and level of anxiety that you are dealing with. If the dentist prescribes an oral sedative, the patient will simply follow the instructions on how to take it.

For nitrous oxide, however, there is no prior preparation. Your dentist will simply administer it before the procedure is started. This differs from IV sedation, where minor preparations are required before it is administered.

In other circumstances, your dentist may ask you to fast — no eating for a period up to 24 hours — before the dental procedure, and you may have to avoid taking certain medications in order to avert any kind of potentially lethal combinations.

What side effects can I experience with sedation dentistry?

During the sedation procedure, your trained and experienced dentist — like the ones at WhiteWing Dental — will monitor your pulse, blood pressure, oxygen saturation, respiratory rates, and other factors that need to be observed.

Be sure to let your dentist know about medication(s) that you are currently taking. This will help them to avoid any potential side effects from combining the sedatives with your current medications.

Memory loss may also occur, which may be a good or bad thing for the patient, depending on their anxiety and the dental procedure done. Sedatives take a while to wear off, causing the patient to be impaired. Driving after the dental procedure is strongly discouraged and the use of a designated driver is highly recommended.

Aside from that, share with your dentist any allergies you may have, especially if you are allergic to any of the ingredients that make up the sedatives.

Will I benefit from sedation dentistry?

Sedation dentistry is a benefit for those that fear sitting in the dentist’s chair. If you have a fear of needles, perhaps local anesthesia or IV sedation isn’t for you, but you may be eligible for an oral sedation.

In any case, if you are putting off dental care out of fear, sedation dentistry is the ideal solution. You don’t have to put off dental work anymore; not when sedation dentistry can save your teeth and gums.

WhiteWing Dental offers sedation dentistry to meet you and your family’s dental needs. Don’t let fear keep you out of the dentist’s chair!

The ability to have healthy teeth, gums, and overall excellent oral health exists for every patient. Don’t let anxiety keep you from having a healthy mouth.

Contact our McAllen family dentistry today at (956) 686-5577 to discuss whether sedation dentistry is right for you and to schedule your routine appointment today.