If you've heard of dental sedation, you may wonder why it is used and whether it is something you should consider. Dental sedation is a method of helping the patient relax for dental procedures. It may involve nitrous oxide delivered through your nose and mouth or a pill taken before your appointment. In some situations, sedation is performed through an IV. Unlike general anesthesia, sedation allows you to remain awake but relaxed and cooperative.
There are several reasons your dentist may suggest dental sedation and several reasons why you might want to ask about using it during your appointments.
You Have Fear or Nerves About Dental Procedures
This is perhaps the most well-known reason for dental sedation. If you have a dental phobia, sedation can calm you before and during a procedure without requiring general anesthesia. Some people find that using sedation a few times helps them overcome their fears, while others opt to use sedation for all procedures.
You Have Overly Sensitive Teeth
People with sensitive teeth sometimes struggle during cleanings or even basic exams. Sedation can allow you to visit the dentist without discomfort or the need for local anesthesia for basic procedures such as cleanings.
You Are Prone to Gagging
Some dentists will suggest sedation if you have a strong gag reflex or if your jaw locks up when you hold it open for long periods of time. Most often, sedation will only be necessary for procedures involving your back teeth, but if your reactions are especially strong, you may want to consider sedation for all of your procedures.
If Local Anesthetic Does Not Work Well on You
People have varying reactions to local anesthetics. While some people simply don't react to local anesthetics at all, others may have stronger or weaker reactions than normal. This can make even simple dental work uncomfortable. While you may be able to try a different kind of local anesthetic, your dentist may suggest pairing a local anesthetic with sedation or using sedation in place of a local anesthetic to ensure your comfort.
You Are Undergoing an Intensive Procedure
Some more intensive procedures such as implants, some root canals, and gum surgery may work better with sedation. These procedures can be uncomfortable even with local anesthetic, and they tend to last longer than simple procedures. Sedation can help you remain relaxed for the duration of the procedure.
Sedation is a relatively safe, common procedure. If you think it will make your appointments more comfortable, you should talk with your dentist about whether it is right for you.