What is Sedation Dentistry?

There are many reasons why someone may be fearful to visit the dentist. For a lot of people, this fear and anxiety leads to avoiding the dentist entirely. Unfortunately, when pain or swelling gets to the point of a dental emergency it can be a very difficult appointment! Dentists certainly recommend a consistent visit, to the dentist, at least twice a year, to catch any cavities while they’re small, but for those with a dental phobia those regular visits become next to impossible.

There are several levels of sedation available to aid in calming anxiety related to dental care.  They include:

  • Nitrous oxide or “laughing gas”
  • Oral medication
  • IV medication
  • Deep sedation

The most common is the use of nitrous oxide or ‘laughing gas’. Since it’s a gas that’s inhaled through the nose it’s very fast-acting. You’re still aware of your surroundings but you don’t care as much! This method helps with relieving mild fear and anxiety. Since it’s a gas, it is flushed out of your system before you leave your appointment. The use of Xanax can be helpful in reducing overall anxiety and its symptoms of high blood pressure and rapid heartbeat that a lot of patient’s experience coming to the dentist. It acts relatively quickly and helps to curb your fear and let you get through an appointment.

A higher level of sedation is the use of oral medication to make you feel sleepy and forgetful. This is called oral conscious sedation (OCS). You’re very sleepy but still conscious with the use of these medications, and you won’t remember much of your time at the dental office! You’ll be monitored the entire time by Dr. Reiser and trained professionals. She’ll also make sure you’re a good candidate by checking your medical history and ensuring all questions are answered prior to your OCS appointment. This lasts a LONG time and is helpful, so we can get a lot of work done, however this is also the downfall as someone will have to stay with you at home and help you for 12-24 hours!

The next level after OCS is the use of medication that goes directly into your bloodstream through an IV. This is commonly used in oral surgeon offices and has a fast onset, and relatively fast recovery when compared to oral sedation. Although you are still conscious and can breathe on your own, you are less likely to be moving around during treatment when some unpleasant stimuli occur. For some people this can mean the sound or smells won’t be bothersome at all!

The highest level of sedation involves the use of the hospital operating room and is a deep sedation where no level of consciousness is maintained. This means that you need to have a tube to help you breathe, and a highly specialized team to provide the dental care.  This sedation is typically to help those that are mentally compromised.

How might dental visits be better for those that are afraid to keep up with dental care and regular visits? Sedation dentistry may be something to consider with Dr. Elizabeth Reiser-Loeber, General Dentist and is offered in our Plainfield, IL office,  Anew Dental and Orthodontic, LLC. Dr. Reiser offers Xanax and oral conscious sedation to adults over 18.  Please request a consultation appointment with Dr. Reiser by calling 815-577-9900 to find out what option is best for you.  She is looking forward to making your next visit to the dentist a relaxing one.


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