Sedation dentistry is the practice of using medication to eliminate pain or help patients relax during dental procedures. If you are very nervous about going to the dentist, or you are going to be having a painful procedure done such as a root canal or an extraction the doctor will use medication to numb the area around the tooth or if you are very nervous they may decide to put you to sleep for the duration of the procedure. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about sedation dentistry along with some answers.

Does sedation dentistry really work?

This is a question that you will hear among those who are very anxious about dental procedures – they think that sedation dentistry is a ploy to get them into the dentist’s chair. Sedation dentistry works; you are injected in the area close to where the procedure will be done so that you don’t feel any pain at all. The dentist can also give you something to calm your nerves or he can choose to put you to light sleep.

What are the benefits of sedation dentistry?

There are several. The most important is that it is the best way to relieve anxiety that is associated with dental procedures. Another advantage is that it allows the dentist to work for longer, completing several procedures at once rather than having you come in for multiple visits. Sedation dentistry can also be very helpful for people who have physical and mental handicaps. Dentists also prefer to use sedation when they are dealing with patients who have behavioral problems.

Are there different types of sedation dentistry and can I choose the one that I want?

Indeed there are different kinds of sedation that you can choose from. The most common is mild sedation where the dentist will use just enough of the drug to make sure that you are awake but not in any pain or discomfort at all. If the procedure will be quite painful the dentist can choose to use moderate sedation in which case you will be awake for the procedure but will not be able to speak – if you try you will slur your words. Deep sedation is where you are put to sleep for the duration of the procedure, but it is not as deep as general anesthesia which is only used when you are having surgical dental procedures.

You can choose the kind of sedation that you want. If you are very nervous you can ask your dentist to prescribe something to help calm your nerves. You will be given strict instructions about when you should take the pills, and you should follow them to the letter. In some cases the dentist will sedate you when you arrive at the dental practice.

Will I feel any pain afterwards?

You may experience some pain but it will not be as bad as if you hadn’t been sedated to begin with. As the sedation wears off you may also feel numb and you may experience a dull ache but this can easily be taken care of with mild painkillers.

Will I remember anything?

If the dentist decides to put you to sleep for your procedure when you come to you will not be able to remember anything – it is one of the benefits of this kind of dentistry. Memories of what happen can make you even more wary of seeing the dentist so it is best that you don’t remember anything at all.

How do I receive the sedation?

The most common way to sedate you is with an injection. For local anesthesia your dentist will inject the area around the tooth he will be working on and then give it a few minutes to get completely numb. You can also receive sedation through inhalation – you may be given some laughing gas to breathe in which will make you feel relaxed. The dentist can also use an IV, especially if he will be using deep anesthesia.

What happens after I wake up?

When you wake up, if you had been put to sleep, you will be a bit groggy for a while. Depending on your body size and overall health this feeling can take a while to go away. If you are going to be sedated during your dental procedure you shouldn’t drive yourself home. Have someone come and pick you up and stay with you until you are completely awake.

You should carefully follow the instructions that the dentist has given you for your procedure If you were having a root canal done you shouldn’t bite down on anything hard – eat soft foods until the dentist clears you. If you were having a surgical procedure you should get proper care until the incisions are healed. You will be given painkillers and antibiotics – take them as prescribed. If you develop swelling or severe pain you should go back in and see your dentist right away.

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