If the thought of going to the dentist makes you feel anxious, you’re not alone: It’s estimated that dental-related fear and anxiety keep about 20 million Americans out of the dentist chair each year. At Red Bud Dental in Round Rock, Texas, Dr. Lisa Ochoa offers sedation services to help ease severe dental phobias and calm the apprehensions of patients of all ages from communities throughout the Austin metropolitan area.
Sedation dentistry involves the use of mild calming medications to manage anxiety when patients with significant or severe dental fears are in the dentist chair. Dentists can use it for patients of all ages who require care but find it difficult to go to the dentist. Sedated patients feel calm, relaxed, and remain awake when receiving dental care.
Dentists often use sedation to help patients with moderate to intense anxiety get through an appointment that requires several procedures. They can also use it to make dental procedures easier and less stressful for patients with special needs or for those who have an exceptionally strong gag reflex.
Sedation may also be a good idea for younger patients who find it difficult to sit still for the amount of time it takes to undergo a cleaning and a comprehensive exam.
Two of the three main types of sedation used by Red Bud Dental are:
Nitrous oxide — Also known as laughing gas, this safe, mild sedative is administered through a mask placed over your nose. As you breathe, you’ll inhale a mixture of oxygen and nitrous oxide. The medicine smells faintly sweet, and its relaxing physical effects take place in a matter of minutes. Patients have reported feeling happy, relaxed, and dreamy while under this type of sedation.
Oral sedatives — For patients who are very anxious about getting in the dentist chair, they can take oral sedatives about 20 minutes before a scheduled appointment. In addition to their calming effect, oral sedatives are more likely to make you feel somewhat drowsy.
Whenever sedation medications are planned for a dental procedure, there are important rules for eating and drinking that must be followed in the hours before the appointment. The day before your procedure, Dr. Ochoa or someone from her team will call and give you specific pre-sedation instructions.
Sedation usually takes some amount of time to wear off, with the effects of nitrous oxide typically wearing off more quickly than those of oral sedatives or IV sedation. When you’re coming out of sedation, you may feel groggy, dizzy, confused, or even slightly sick. These reactions are normal and will disappear once the drug completely wears off.