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Sedation Dentistry 

Introduction

It is very common for people to have fear or feel nervous about visiting their dentist.  Sedation dentistry is helpful for people that experience high levels of anxiety during dental procedures.  Sedation dentistry makes you feel very relaxed during your visit.  It is also used for longer procedures, including dental surgery and wisdom tooth extraction.  Your dentist can provide “conscious sedation” or general anesthesia.

Conscious sedation uses medications that allow you to be very relaxed, yet awake and responsive.  General anesthesia medications create a deep sleep-like state.  Sedative medications are frequently used with pain-relieving medications.

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Symptoms
It is very common for some people to have a general fear of going to the dentist.  Others may have anxiety disorders that are heightened during a dental visit.  Your dentist is happy to discuss your concerns and select options that are appropriate for you. 
 
Sedation dentistry makes you feel very relaxed during the procedure.  It is especially helpful if you have anxiety.  Sedation dentistry is also used for people with physical disabilities that have uncontrollable movement disorders.

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Diagnosis
Tell your dentist if you or your child experiences fear and anxiety before and during dental visits.  Tell your dentist if you have an anxiety disorder.  It is important to tell your dentist what medications you take and what other medical conditions you have.  Inform your doctor of your drug allergies. 

It is very important to tell your doctor if you consume alcohol or use illegal street drugs.  It is also very important to tell your doctor if you have experienced a neurological disorder, such as a traumatic brain injury or a stroke.  Your doctor needs to consider all of this information when selecting and dosing the appropriate medication for you.

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Treatment
You can receive anti-anxiety or sedative medications before or during your visit.  You will need to have someone else drive you to and from your dentist’s office.  Anti-anxiety or sedative medications are administered as pills, liquids, gases, or injections.  They can be used in conjunction with pain-relieving medications. 
 
Conscious sedation methods use nitrous oxide, commonly referred to as “laughing gas.”  You can receive nitrous oxide by inhaling it through a small mask or having it administered intravenously (IV sedation).  Nitrous oxide causes you to feel very relaxed and less aware of your surroundings.  You remain awake and are responsive during the procedure.  Your dentist must have a state permit to administer conscious sedation.
 
General anesthesia produces a deep sleep and loss of consciousness.  It makes you temporarily not alert, not aware of your surroundings, and not able to respond.  You are monitored during this time.  The medication wears off shortly after the procedure, and you become alert again.  General anesthesia is very useful for people with uncontrollable anxiety or uncontrollable body movements from neurological disorders.  Your dentist must have a state permit to administer general anesthesia. 
 
Your comfort and safety are top concerns of your dentist during your visit.  Ask your dentist if sedative dentistry is an option for you.  Knowing what to expect at your visit can help you relax and ease your fear about dental procedures.

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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on April 13th, 2016. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit www.iHealthSpot.com.