There are many types of dental sedation methods.
Nitrous Oxide or Inhalation Sedation
Nitrous oxide sedation has been popular throughout the history of dentistry. 33% of dentists in the United States use inhalation sedation to relax the patient during a procedure. The patient inhales a mixture of oxygen and nitrous oxide through a mask. The gas mixture causes an analgesic and euphoric effect, which numbs and relaxes the patient.
Inhalation sedation has very few side effects. The degree of sedation can be easily controlled. The patient can easily recover after the sedation. He can resume with normal activities, and drive home immediately after the procedure.
It is considered as the safest method for mild to moderate sedation. It is recommended for brief dental procedures, and for people with mild anxiety.
In this method, the patient is required to take a sedative pill a few hours, or a night before the dental procedure. The patient should be relaxed and anxiety-free during the procedure.
However, the patient must be accompanied by another person to the dentist’s office because they would be under the effect of medication. They must also be accompanied by another person on their way home, because the effects of the sedative will take a few hours to subside. Common side effects of oral sedation are nausea and vomiting.
Oral sedation is a cheap and effective relaxation method for patients with mild anxiety. However, the degree of sedation cannot be controlled. The effect may vary from person to person. It does not have an analgesic effect, so a local anesthesia is also required for pain management.
Intravenous or IV sedation is the most powerful conscious sedation for moderate to severe cases of dental anxiety. Sedative and analgesic drugs are administered into the patient’s vein through an IV line. It will make the patient feel relaxed and pain-free. The patient will also be in a state of partial amnesia. Patients who fear the needle may be uncomfortable with this method.
IV sedation is fast-acting, and the level of sedation can be controlled by adjusting the flow of sedative drugs into the bloodstream. For safety reasons, the patient’s blood pressure, pulse, breathing and heart rate should be monitored. The patient can recover quickly after sedation, but they should be accompanied by another person on their way home.
Dentists are required to undergo advanced training, and comply with strict regulations before they can perform IV sedation. Advanced equipment and extra staff that are needed for monitoring makes IV sedation more expensive. It is recommended for invasive and lengthy dental procedures.
Intramuscular sedation is a less common type of sedation method. It is usually used for children. The sedative is injected into the upper arm or thigh of the patient. It can cause sedation for about 30 minutes.
General anesthesia or non-conscious sedation is used for very long, and extremely invasive dental procedures. In this method, the patient will be totally unconscious. He will be immobilized and unresponsive. Breathing assistance will be required.
It can only be administered by highly trained and experienced dental anesthesiologist, anesthesiologist or oral surgeon. It should be done in a hospital setting. It is very expensive, and considered as the last resort for patients.