Our goal is to give comfortable local anesthesia so that patients are no longer fearful of dental appointments. We understand, however, that some patients have a fear of dentistry due to previous unpleasant experiences in other dental offices. We may offer you one of three types of sedation, depending on what procedures we are doing.
Nitrous Oxide Sedation
Nitrous oxide is sometimes referred to as laughing gas because some patients may become slightly giddy when under the influence of nitrous oxide. Dentists use nitrous oxide mixed with 50-70% oxygen. The patient remains conscious and functions and breathes on their own through a mask on their face.
For many of the procedures we do, the mask itself blocks our access to your mouth, so we do not routinely use nitrous oxide. Some patients that have had it in the past think they need it, but if we do a procedure with a painless local anesthesia technique, most patients do very well. We are more likely to recommend that nitrous oxide be used on children for light, safe sedation. If a child is very fearful of dental care, we will probably refer the child to a pediatric dentist. The pediatric dentist will probably use heavy sedation to do procedures on the child. With all three types of sedation, we also use local anesthesia (we numb the area we are working in with a painless injection).
Oral sedation is taking one or more pills an hour or so before your dental appointment. Oral sedation has become very popular in dentistry during the past few years. The oral sedatives that we use are changing from time to time, but please ask about this option if you are fearful. With nitrous oxide sedation we let the patient breathe pure oxygen for a few minutes at the end of their appointment and this gets all the nitrous oxide out of their system so they can drive their car. However, with oral sedation the patient must have someone else drive them to and from their dental appointment and they cannot drive until the effects of the sedation have completely worn off, which might be all day depending on the oral sedative drug that is used. We will occasionally use nitrous oxide along with an oral sedative.
I.V. sedation is a technique to inject a drug or drugs in a vein in the arm. The sedative effect of I.V. sedation is much more profound than nitrous oxide or oral sedation. Dr. Doug Clepper and Dr. Bobby Turner offer I.V. sedation when placing dental implants or extracting teeth.
I.V. sedation is not general anesthesia, but the patient is so relaxed they are in a twilight sleep and they may not remember having had the procedure done.