The most common way to treat dental anxiety or to just make your experience at the dentist that much more enjoyable, is by having laughing gas, or nitrous oxide (N20). This can be administered directly to the patient by inhaling and exhaling through a nose piece in each room. Patients are able to stay conscious and aware, but are more calm during procedures. Patients often choose this option when dental anxiety is only very mild. As soon as the gas is turned off, the effects go away and the patient is able to drive themselves from the office if needed.
Sometimes our patients who deal with anxiety need more than just laughing gas. The next thing that Dr. Dave generally recommends is a mild sedative called Halcion. It is very similar to the more common Diazepam. Halcion is in a class called Benzodiazepines which slow down the nervous system and are commonly used to treat insomnia. They bring patients to a very relaxed, semi sedated level to wear they can still walk and talk, but often don’t remember any treatment that was done during their dental visit. Patients who take this type of sedative need to have someone drive them to an from an appointment.
Halcion comes in different dosages and will be determined by Dr. Dave prior to the dental visit. Dr. Dave will write a prescription and it will have to be picked up at a pharmacy. Generally the patient takes one pill 1 hour before the appointment and if they are still feeling anxious, they can take another one upon arrival. Halcion is fairly inexpensive is a great option for patients with mild to moderate anxiety.
IV Sedation, aka “conscious sedation” is a combination of medications that allow for a patient to be awake during a procedure, but may not necessarily remember everything that has happened. After any work has been completed, the patient awakens, but with little to no recollection of the treatment done. The combination of medications causes sedation as well as an anesthesia; however, oral anesthesia will still be administered to assure 100% anesthesia for patient comfort.
Who Should Be Sedated?
Dr. Dave, a dentist in Boise, Idaho recommends IV Sedation for the following type of patients:
- Patients with high dental/doctor anxiety
- Young children with dental work. It is important for a child’s experience in the dental office to be positive, especially at a young age. Children who need a lot of work done, or who have had traumatic experience before would benefit from sedation.
- Most commonly, wisdom teeth removal or other extractions
Because of the type of medications that we use, we recommend that patients don’t eat or drink anything (besides water) 8 hours prior to being sedated. Also, you will need to have a driver to pick up the patient being sedated. The patient won’t be fully aware directly after the procedure and may want to go sleep once they have gotten home until the anesthesia has completely worn off.