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Is Sedation Dentistry Safe?

Posted on January 13th, 2020

We understand that seeing the dentist can be scary. About 50% of people report having some fear about getting dental work done, and sadly, 15% of people avoid dentistry completely because of fear or anxiety. Your oral health is important, and we don’t want anything to keep you from getting the treatment you need and deserve.

The Ancient Greeks used root herbs and alcohol as medical sedatives and anesthetics. The Incas used cocoa leaves to numb patients. As long as people have needed medical treatment, doctors have used sedatives to make them more comfortable. Thankfully, modern science gives us more than herbs and cocoa leaves to aid in our comfort at the dentist. Today, it’s safely used on millions of people in dental offices every year.

Different sedation techniques–along with seeing a dentist you trust–will help you feel confident and peaceful about your dental experience. The different medications used in sedation dentistry can help control pain, help you relax, and even help you sleep through an entire procedure.

Different Types of Sedation in Dentistry

Sedation is different than anesthesia. Local anesthesia numbs a specific area of your body by blocking nerves, and general anesthesia puts you into a deep sleep where your heart and breathing need assistance. Sedation simply calms you down and helps you relax, putting you in a waking dream-like state.

You’ll be very sleepy, but fully conscious and able to respond to the dentist. You likely won’t have any memory of the treatment, or it may be blurry, but you also won’t need medical support to breathe.

Today, sedative medications are known as benzodiazepines. They are safe, fast-acting, and some are better for certain situations than others. The most common sedatives in dentistry are midazolam (Versed), diazepam  (Valium), and lorazepam (Ativan). Based on your health history and the treatment needed, Parrish dentist Dr. Richard Schnur will select the best sedative for you.

These are the most common ways dentists administer sedation:

  • Oral Conscious Sedation – a prescription sedative you take before your appointment
  • Nitrous Oxide Sedation – inhaled nitrous and oxygen through a face mask
  • IV Sedation – administered intravenously

Depending on your individual preferences and the treatment needed, we will recommend one or a combination of sedation methods.

Who Needs Sedation?

People routinely receive sedation for getting their wisdom teeth removed and other more complicated dental treatments and oral surgeries. Some people also get dental sedation if they are extremely nervous about their appointment, or if they have a specific health need or disability that requires it.

If you need sedation for an upcoming dental appointment, be sure to have a ride arranged because you shouldn’t drive yourself home. You should also ask your dentist for instructions on eating and what other medication you’re allowed to take on the day of the procedure. You’ll be most comfortable if you don’t wear contact lenses or tight-fitting clothing.

What to Ask Your Dentist About Sedation

Millions of people every year safely receive sedation at a dental office. Dentists are licensed doctors trained to take the best care of you. Still, sedatives may have side effects or may not be right for everyone. Before you get sedated, talk to your dentist about:

  • If the type of procedure you’re having requires sedation
  • How healthy you are overall; physically and mentally
  • If you have any known allergies
  • If you’re taking any medications
  • Any specific fears or concerns

If you have questions about sedation dentistry, or if you’re looking for a very friendly and peaceful place to take care of your oral health, Florida Smile Design is here for you. Make an appointment today for any and all of your dental needs!

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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About Dr. Richard Schnur

Dr. Schnur earned his DMD at the University of Florida and completed a General Practice Residency at the VA Hospital in Gainesville. He also holds a State of Florida Sedation certificate. In his spare time, Dr. Schnur loves spending time with his wife, Dr. Patricia Schnur of Parrish Children’s Dentistry, and their three children, Benjamin, Sarah, and Daniel. He also loves any kind of surfing.

Artwork by Gunilla Imshaug

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