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Sedation Dentistry: What You Need to Know

I

f you shudder at the thought of a dental visit, or avoid it altogether, you're not alone. Dental anxiety is very real and it's estimated that up to 20% of people avoid seeing the dentist because of anxiety and fear. At

Jeff M. Morrison & Associates DDS

, we want you to take excellent care of your oral health - which means coming in for

regular cleaning and exams

, and having dental problems addressed at the earliest possible stage. That's why we offer sedation dentistry to those who need extra help feeling calm and relaxed during a dental procedure.

We will administer a controlled amount of sedative medicine before or during your dental procedure, helping to reduce your anxiety and create a calm treatment experience.  Whether you are getting your

wisdom teeth removed

, a

cavity filled

, or simply a

routine cleaning and exam

, we will work with you to assure that you are comfortable, calm and relaxed.

Sedation dentistry is divided into different categories. Minimal sedation, which decreases anxiety while maintaining full consciousness, can be achieved through mild anti-anxiety medication or nitrous oxide. Moderate, or conscious, sedation is commonly achieved through a combination of sedative pills and an intravenous sedative. It creates a sleeplike state in which the patient's response to touch and sound is strong. Intravenous sedation allows you to sleep deeply in an unconscious state where you will not be awakened until the effects wear off or medication is used to reverse it.

At

Jeff M. Morrison & Associates, DDS,

our patients’ comfort is our priority. We offer two types of minimal dental sedation to help you feel completely relaxed before, during, and after your visit to our office:

  • Inhalation Sedation (or Laughing Gas) is a combination of nitrous oxide and oxygen that you breathe in through a mask placed over your nose to help you relax. The amount you receive is controlled by Dr. Morrison. This form of sedation wears off quickly.
  • Oral Conscious Sedation is in the form of a prescribed pill that is taken about an hour before your dental procedure. With this form of sedation, you remain conscious and completely aware of your surroundings in a very calm and relaxed state. A variety of medications are available for this type of sedation, and Dr. Morrison will carefully discuss your particular needs to determine which choice would work best for you. However, all are classified as anti-anxiety medications and achieve the same result: reducing and even eliminating the anxiety of dental treatment.

Inhalation sedation and oral conscious sedation can safely be used together for an even deeper feeling of relaxation.

Is Sedation Dentistry Right For You?

Here are a few things to discuss with Dr. Morrison when considering sedation dentistry: 

  • Is the procedure lengthy or complex? Sedation dentistry may allow us to complete your treatment in fewer appointments and to finish complex procedures in less time.
  • Do you have a psychological or physiological reason (such as a highly sensitive gag reflex) that makes dental procedures difficult? Sedation dentistry may successfully address these reasons by allowing you to relax deeply through the procedure. 
  • Do you have any serious health conditions, or are you pregnant? Using sedatives during a dental procedure may not be a good idea for people who are pregnant, or who have certain cardiac or respirator conditions. 

While your dental treatment is performed, your vital signs will be carefully monitored to ensure that your experience is as safe as possible. If you've only received nitrous oxide, the effects will wear off almost immediately and you will be able to drive home, or return to work or school. The effects of oral sedation last longer than with nitrous oxide alone, so you'll need someone to drive you home after your procedure. Unexpected reactions to inhalation or oral sedation are exceedingly rare, but as with any medical procedure, Dr. Morrison will review your health history, discuss the risks and benefits, and carefully monitor you throughout the procedure for any changes in blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen levels.

"It’s normal to experience some apprehension about going to the dentist, especially if you've had a negative experience at the dentist as a child, or if you’re heading into an extensive procedure" says Dr. Morrison. "Before I offer the option of sedation - I try to find out the source of the patients' anxiety and their level of anxiety, and then we talk about ways to manage it," he said. "I can oftentimes get an anxious patient comfortably through a procedure just by talking with them, distracting them, taking breaks, and explaining what we are doing at each stage of treatment." 

"However, some patients simply won't get the care they need unless they have some kind of sedation and in these cases the risks of not receiving dental care is greater," said Dr. Morrison. "For these patients, using sedation dentistry to help them face their fears and get the treatment they need is essential."

At

Jeff M. Morrison & Associates,

we do what we can so all patients feel completely comfortable in our office— no matter how big or how small their treatment may be. Is it time for your cleaning and exam? Give our office a call at 919.755.3450 or

schedule online

. We look forward to seeing you.