Sedation dentistry is almost exactly what it sounds like: dentistry performed while you are somewhat awake, but in minimal pain and not very aware of what’s going on. Most people say they feel ‘dream-like’ during their sedation and have no memory of their dental procedure. If going to the dentist makes you very anxious, it might be an option for you.
What types of dental sedation are available?
There are three main types of dental sedation: inhaled, oral, and intravenous (IV).
Inhaled sedation is a sedative that you breathe in. The sedation used is usually nitrous oxide, which is often called ‘laughing gas’ or ‘happy gas’. A Penthrox inhaler is also commonly used, often referred to as the ‘green whistle’
Oral sedation comes in the form of a tablet or liquid. You usually take it an hour or so before an appointment. Your doctor or a dentist can give you a script beforehand to get from your pharmacist, then you should take it an hour or so before your appointment.
Intravenous (IV) sedation comes through an injection into your arm, which quickly makes you feel sleepy. This type is most often known as ‘twilight sedation’ or ‘sleep dentistry’, and is administered by an anaesthetist or a sedation doctor.
When might dental sedation be recommended for me?
- If you’re very anxious about your dental procedure
- If you’re undergoing a more painful dental surgery (such as wisdom teeth removal or having dental implants placed)
- If you have a strong gag reflex
- If you’re undergoing several dental procedures at the same time
- If you often don’t respond well to local anaesthesia
You might not be suitable if:
- You have a history of substance abuse
- You are pregnant (especially if you are in the first trimester)
- You have respiratory conditions (such as sleep apnoea)
Can I be sedated during my dental procedure?
At Ashfield Dental Centre, the answer is yes! Most dentists can provide light sedation, such as Penthrox (green whistle) or prescribed pills. At Ashfield Dental Centre, we also host several dentists who have undergone specialised training to provide stronger sedation options. If you would like to be sedated during your visit, please speak to our doctors before your appointment.
The type of sedation you can get depends on a number of factors, including your overall health and the type of dental procedure you need.
Can I drive home after sedation dentistry?
In most cases, the answer is no. You can only drive home after having laughing gas, no other kind of sedation. This is because laughing gas wears off quickly compared to other sedation methods, and will usually be completely out of your body within [an hour]
Deep sedation and general anaesthesia – like the kinds you might use if you undergo a major dental surgery – can take a day or longer to leave your body completely. You should not drive a car for at least 24 hours after having any type of general anaesthesia.
Don’t let anxiety hold back your oral health
If discomfort is keeping you from getting the dental care you need, talk to one of our friendly staff members to book an appointment. Our dentists can assess your suitability and the best sedation method for you, so we can get your oral health back in gear together.