How is Sedation Dentistry Different from “Sleep Dentistry”?

Fresno sedation dentistryYou’ve probably heard the term “sleep dentistry” used in common parlance, but it’s actually somewhat misleading. It most certainly is not the same thing as sedation dentistry. Sedation dentistry refers to the use of mild sedatives and nitrous oxide gas to induce a more relaxed state during and before dental appointments.

Are you interested in having a more relaxing experience at the dentist? Dr. Alex Denes provides sedation to make patients more comfortable during their dental appointments. Dental sedation is an excellent option for patients with anxiety, special needs, or a sensitive gag reflex. Call our Fresno, CA dental office to learn more!

When people refer to “sleep dentistry” they are talking about wanting to have all their dental work done while they are unconscious. Incidentally, only way to medically induce this state is with general anesthesia—the same powerful cocktails of medication that are used with major surgeries. General anesthesia requires a devoted anesthesiologist to administer the drugs and monitor the patient. It also requires a recovery period that may last up to 24 hours. Patients are often groggy or disoriented after intravenous anesthesia, and some experience nausea or vomiting afterward. That’s an awful lot of work for what may be a short dental visit!

Most people do not choose “sleep dentistry” because general anesthesia is a major procedure and is typically not needed for basic dental work. It may be recommended for particularly long procedures and dental surgery, but simpler sedation options are usually enough to help patients get through routine preventive and restorative appointments without stress or discomfort.

How Does Sedation Dentistry Work?

Rather than inducing unconsciousness with powerful intravenous drugs, sedation dentistry provides mildly sedating medications that can take the edge off of uncomfortable appointments.

Prescriptions – At Fresno Dental Studio, we use a few different medicines, as each patient may have different needs. Most of the medications we prescribe come in two doses: one to take before bed the night before, and one for just before the appointment. They are usually from the benzodiazepine class of medicines, which are often given to patients who experience anxiety on airplanes or who have panic attacks. They do not induce unconsciousness, and you will still have control of your faculties under their influence.

Nitrous Oxide Gas – This medicine has a gentle dissociative effect, and many patients claim to feel “floaty” under its influence. Nitrous oxide is very safe for patients of all ages, as it is administered with oxygen, via facemask. Nitrous oxide does not put you to sleep, and you will remain conscious (if not entirely alert) the whole time. Patients usually regain their normal state of awareness within about 10 minutes after the nitrous oxide is taken away. Driving yourself home afterward is easy and safe.

What Are the Effects of Dental Sedation?

Patients report feeling more relaxed and care-free in the dental chair. Things that may ordinarily cause stress are less affecting. The sights, smells, and sounds that might usually induce panic are simply of less concern. Patients with a powerful gag reflex may tolerate more activity in the mouth than usual, and fidgety, resistant, or “uncooperative” patients tend to go with the flow more freely.

Who Uses Dental Sedation?

Patients who benefit from dental sedation come in all ages and from all walks of life. They may include people who have:

  • severe dental anxiety or phobias
  • nervousness about needles and dental tools
  • special needs (e.g., autism spectrum disorder)
  • dementia or Alzheimer’s disease
  • hyperactivity or difficulty sitting still for long periods of time
  • a hyperactive gag reflex

Does Sedation Make You Fall Asleep?

Dental sedation with Fresno Dental Studio will not put you to sleep. It may make you feel so relaxed that you fall asleep on your own, however. We frequently see patients who are finally able to tolerate a dental appointment—after years of stress and anxiety—thanks to sedation. In these cases, it is a joy to be able to help our patients get the oral health treatments they deserve without trauma or psychological stress. Call our Fresno dental office at 559-297-1294 to learn more about dental sedation.

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