If you’re nervous and have anxiety about going to the dentist because of previous painful experiences, sedation dentistry may be a good solution for you. Be assured you are not the only patient we’ve had with dental fears. Dr. Arash Azarbal is very sensitive to the needs of fearful patients and he will take the time to listen to your concerns and talk with you about sedation dentistry options available at our practice that can help.
Simply put, sedation dentistry is the use of techniques designed to reduce, relieve, and even eliminate any anxiety that patients may experience when they visit the dentist. This anxiety can cause some individuals to avoid ever scheduling dental appointments and refrain from seeking the care they need altogether. In fact, fear isn’t the only reason why sedation dentistry may be recommended. Sometimes patients have uncontrollable gag reflexes, or we have patients who use sedation dentistry when they need extensive dental work. It can get both expensive and disruptive to have multiple appointments. It costs time and income from missed work. With sedation dentistry, patients can have several procedures done in the same appointment. Options such as nitrous oxide, oral conscious sedation, IV sedation, or general anesthesia can help many individuals significantly minimize dental anxiety for a more comfortable visit, as well as make the dental treatment experience more convenient.
“There are many key factors that make Dr. Azarbal an absolute pleasure to work with. I used to be afraid of going into the dentist’s office, fearing not knowing what is going on. Dr. Azarbal won me over with his patience and willingness to explain the procedures.”
Am I A Candidate for Sedation Dentistry?
There are a variety of reasons patients may want to consider sedation dentistry. In many cases, individuals who may benefit from sedation techniques are those who:
- Have a general fear of dental procedures
- Have sensitive teeth
- Have a strong gag reflex
- Have a fear of dental shots or needles
- Need extensive dental work
- Are completing multiple procedures in one visit
- Are suffering from conditions that make undergoing dental procedures more difficult
Dr. Azarbal will talk with you about your concerns and he can review your medical history to determine the type of sedation dentistry that may be right for your needs. If you are a good candidate for sedation dentistry, he can include the appropriate technique in your overall treatment plan.
What Are the Different Types of Sedation Dentistry?
Dr. Azarbal offers three levels of sedation dentistry. The first is nitrous oxide, also known as “laughing gas.” This is a mild form of sedation that can provide significant relaxation.
Nitrous oxide is an anxiolytic gas which reduces anxiety. It does not make patients unconscious. It helps relieve any stress you feel during dental procedures. Once your dental work is completed, you will be given oxygen to clear your head. The effects of nitrous oxide generally wear off fast, and you’ll be functioning normally and will even be able to drive yourself home from your appointment or return to work. Properly administered nitrous oxide is safe and effective for many individuals.
We sometimes have patients say they are highly resistant to local anesthetic. One factor that can contribute to this is that the stress from dental anxiety can cause local anesthetic to wear off and be less effective. If this has happened to you in the past, generally a little nitrous oxide will relax you enough that the local anesthetic is able to do its job.
If you don’t think nitrous oxide will be strong enough for you, we may be able to provide a stronger IV sedation. Your comfort is important to us. If you have dental anxiety, we can help.
ORAL CONSCIOUS SEDATION WITH OR WITHOUT NITROUS OXIDE
Another sedation dentistry option is a single-dose sedative medication given approximately an hour before treatment with or without nitrous oxide. The vast majority of patients who want or need sedation can be treated safely using this protocol. With this option, medications are administered at the office and combined with nitrous oxide to make you comfortable and anxiety-free during the procedure. Oral conscious sedation is not designed to make patients unconscious; rather, it should instigate an extremely relaxed state. An additional benefit of oral conscious sedation is that it produces amnesia. In fact, many patients are unable to recall the procedure taking place after it is complete.
IV SEDATION or GENERAL ANESTHESIA
Stronger forms of sedation include IV sedation or general anesthesia. We have a board-certified anesthesiologist administer these options. These are often the techniques we utilize with our patients who tell us they want to be “out” during the entire procedure. You will likely wake up without remembering the procedure, with your dental work completed. The anesthesiologist in conjunction with the patient will determine which option will be more ideal between IV sedation and general anesthesia. The decision will be based on the individual’s medical history and other considerations.
What Are the Side Effects of Sedation Dentistry?
Sedation dentistry is generally considered a safe treatment option for many patients; however, there are some common side effects that you may experience depending on which technique is performed. Nitrous oxide often creates a tingling sensation and/or lightheadedness, but these effects should significantly fade just seconds after the gas is turned off.
Oral conscious sedation will often have some level of amnesia, which will impact short-term memory during the dental visit—many patients report no recollection of their procedure while under the effects of the medication. That side effect is actually one of the more desirable aspects of oral conscious sedation for many patients, allowing them to literally forget the treatment experience. Additionally, many individuals often experience drowsiness/grogginess following their treatment and may feel the need to take a nap when they return home. Individuals who use oral conscious sedation will be required to have a friend or a family member drive them to and from the office. Other potential side effects that typically dissipate quickly after oral conscious sedation include mild headaches, lightheadedness, and dry mouth. Since IV sedation, and certainly general anesthesia, typically result in patients falling asleep, drowsiness following treatment is a prominent side effect, so individuals must plan to have someone drive them to their appointment and home after the procedure.
How Much Does Sedation Dentistry Cost?
The cost of sedation dentistry will vary for each patient based on their needs. During your initial consultation, our team can provide you with a more detailed cost estimate based on the specific sedation dentistry technique chosen for your procedure. Our practice accepts a variety of convenient payment methods, including third-party financing options available for qualified applicants through companies such as CareCredit® and LendingClub®.
Additional Sedation Dentistry Frequently Asked Questions
To help you become well-informed about your sedation options, our dentist, Dr. Arash Azarbal, has answered some FAQs (frequently asked questions) about these relaxation methods. If you have additional inquiries, please reach out to our skilled team.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SEDATION DENTISTRY AND SLEEP DENTISTRY?
Sedation dentistry is a broad term that includes all forms of sedation, including nitrous oxide, oral conscious sedation, IV sedation, and general anesthesia. Sleep dentistry specifically refers to IV sedation or general anesthesia that puts you into a completely unconscious state. This is the rarest type of sedation used. If oral conscious sedation is not substantial enough for your needs, sleep dentistry is usually the alternative. Sleep dentistry is usually recommended for individuals with severe dental phobia who have extensive dental work to complete.
CAN ANY DENTIST PERFORM SEDATION?
Most dentists utilize nitrous oxide gas in their practice, and this mild form of sedation can be performed safely by a skilled professional. To provide oral conscious sedation and more advanced techniques, additional training is required. If IV sedation is to be used, it’s in your best interest to have a board-certified anesthesiologist administering the anesthesia and monitoring you throughout the procedure, as we do at Pasadena Dental Aesthetics.
WHICH SEDATION TECHNIQUE IS RIGHT FOR ME?
If you feel some anxiety about your treatment, nitrous oxide should be sufficient to help you relax and feel calmer during your time with us. If your phobia is more severe, or if you are planning to have multiple procedures performed, oral conscious sedation or IV sedation may be right for you. If you think you might need oral conscious sedation or sleep dentistry (IV sedation or general anesthesia), please talk to our dental team to discuss your needs and plan for your consultation. An initial meeting will be necessary before your appointment so that we can review your medical history and provide the highest level of care possible.
Dr. Azarbal will listen to your concerns, assess your needs, and determine which type of sedation is right for you. If you would like to have a productive and relaxing dental experience, contact our office to schedule an appointment.