It might be hard to believe, but some people look forward to their visits to the dentist. Of course, others not so much. Some people are downright terrified of a dentist appointment. No matter what your disposition is, it can be difficult to relax when someone is working with their hands inside of your mouth! That’s exactly why sedation dentistry is common.

There are 3 different types of sedation available to patients. At first, this probably sounds scary. But read on to learn about the unique benefits and drawbacks of each type – you might not walk into your next appointment at the dentist as scared as you thought you’d be.

1. Nitrous Oxide

More commonly known as laughing gas, nitrous oxide is often the preferred choice because its effects are the shortest. Laughing gas tends to wear off by the time you’re ready to leave and for that reason patients are usually allowed to drive themselves home. With laughing gas sedation you can get dental work done in the morning and be up and ready to go for your evening plans.

Being sedated with laughing gas is simple. A mask is slipped over your mouth and nose, mixing nitrous oxide in with the air you breathe. Within a minute you will feel a mild calming effect, and then you’re ready for your procedure. Laughing gas alone works for many patients, while some patients with more severe anxiety may also require a little more help in the form of oral sedation.

2. Oral Sedation

Oral sedation is another mild form of sedation that works well in combination with laughing gas, or on its own.

Oral sedation is even easier than laughing gas for some patients as it involves simply taking a pill. A major benefit of this type is that patients with higher and more generalised anxiety about the dentist tend to have trouble sleeping the night before. Oral sedatives can be prescribed for use the night before the procedure as well as the day of, allowing patients to come in well rested and relaxed.

The downside of this option is that it stays in your system for a while. You may feel drowsy for the rest of the day and you certainly won’t be able to drive yourself home. The medications prescribed for oral sedation strictly prohibit operating motor vehicles while under their influence. If you plan to use oral sedation, then you will have to make sure you have a ride planned in advance.

3. IV Sedation

IV sedation may scare some patients away due to the use of an intravenous needle but for some procedures, this is the best option. IV sedation will provide the most relaxation possible for your procedure; in fact in some cases it can put you right to sleep.

IV sedation comes in a couple forms. In its milder form, it will leave you conscious but very relaxed. So much so that you will likely have trouble recalling much of your procedure once it’s over.

In its stronger form, known as general anaesthesia, enough medication will be given to intentionally make you fall asleep. This is generally used for more significant procedures such as oral surgery to remove impacted teeth.

Are You an Anxious Patient or Undergoing a Procedure?

Sedation dentistry is safe and it’s a great option for patients who would otherwise be unable to visit the dentist. Sometimes it’s necessary so that potentially painful procedures can be carried out at minimal harm to the patient, like tooth extraction.

It’s understandable that some patients may be concerned about the side effects, so talk to your dentist ahead of time. They can give you a better idea in person of what each type is like to experience. They’ll also help you choose which choice will be best for the procedure you need.