Painless Dentistry

Dentistry has come a long way, to ensure the patient is as comfortable as possible. Comfortable chairs, sunglasses to block any strong light going into your eyes and even TVs mounted on the ceilings of the procedure rooms, have all enhanced the dental experience. However, anxiety and fear are still very common for many patients. In fact, millions of people neglect their teeth each year due to these concerns.

When it comes to dental anxiety, there are various medications available to alleviate most fears and allow a patient to have a painless dental experience. If you are a nervous patient, then contact your dentist to set up a meeting. They will be able to assess your overall oral health and help you to determine your needs so that you can have a painless appointment with them, which may include dental sedation.

Dentists often seek out one of three different types of sedation options. They differ in their administration as well as the level of pain control and anxiety relief that they provide.

Oral Medications:

This is a pill or liquid prescribed and taken prior to the procedure. These sedatives, often referred to as sleeping pills allow the patient to become very relaxed to the point that they are generally not aware of the treatment being provided. As this is a stronger level of sedation, patients need a ride to and from the dental office and usually have to rest after the treatment, allowing the sedative to wear off. This type of sedation is ideal for longer, more invasive procedures, and for patients that would rather not be aware of the dental treatment being provided.

Inhalation Sedation/Medication:

Nitrous oxide is used in inhalation sedation (often referred to as laughing gas) and is a great option for painless dentistry. Once inhaled, a patient can feel sensations such as a warm/tingling sensation, a feeling of well-being, floating or extreme sleepiness.

Nitrous oxide works very rapidly – it reaches the brain within 20 seconds, and relaxation and pain-killing properties develop after 2 or 3 minutes. The depth of sedation can be altered from moment to moment, allowing the person who administers the gas to increase or decrease the depth of sedation. Best of all, because the gas is eliminated from the body within 3 to 5 minutes after the gas supply is stopped, a patient can safely drive home after their dental appointment without the need of an escort.

Intravenous sedation (conscious sedation):

Intravenous sedation is used for more extensive procedures such as the removal of wisdom teeth. The IV is administered in the dental office prior to the dental procedure. The medication allows the patient to become extremely relaxed and unconcerned about what is going on around them while still being conscious. IV sedation is the most effective method of gaining predictable and adequate sedation in nearly all patients.

Looking after your teeth, gums and overall oral health is important for your well-being. Don't let anxiety of going to the dentist deter you from a visit. Contact your dental provider to find out more about painless dentistry and you'll be able to visit the dentist without having any more concerns.

Dr. Samuel Toong, DDS, MSc is able to assist as a painless dentist at Asleep for Dentistry.

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