Sedation Dentistry

If the thought of visiting a Jacksonville dentist brings on feelings of anxiety or fear, you’re certainly not alone – and sedation dentistry may be just what you need.

Also known as conscious sedation or sleep dentistry, sedation dentistry is for people who feel nervous, uneasy, or extremely stressed before dental appointments. It’s also for anyone who is simply scared to see a dentist. Many men, women, and children in Jacksonville and the greater northeast region of Florida fit this description, and people of all ages can benefit from the use of sedation during dental treatment.

Don’t let dental anxiety and fear keep you from having a healthy and beautiful smile. Thanks to sedation dentistry, you can enjoy a comfortable and relaxing dental experience. Read on to learn more.

What is Sedation Dentistry?

Essentially, the goal of sleep dentistry or conscious sedation is to help patients feel at ease during dental procedures.

Many people would prefer to be dozing while undergoing any sort of dental treatment, than waking when the work is done. This isn’t always practical, though, and because it involves the use of strong medication, general anesthesia is typically reserved for complex and lengthy procedures. However, sedation dentistry techniques work to achieve a similar effect – patients remain awake, but in a state of deep relaxation, almost to the point of being fully asleep. As such, conscious sedation is a viable solution for routine and advanced treatments.

Our team at River Oaks Dental offers two options for sedation dentistry – nitrous oxide and oral sedation. The decision on which to employ is based on the needs of the patient, and personal preference is a major factor. With that in mind, it may be helpful to learn a little more about the techniques.

Conscious Sedation with Nitrous Oxide

More commonly known as laughing gas, nitrous oxide offers a mild level of sedation. It’s a safe and effective form of anesthesia, and inhaling the odorless and tasteless gas mixture helps to erase dental anxiety. Patients immediately feel a general sense of well-being, and calmness replaces any nervousness. Nitrous oxide also alters the perception of time, allowing those who are fearful of sitting in the dental chair to be fully relaxed during dental procedures.

Is laughing gas the solution for dental anxiety?

For many Jacksonville patients, nitrous oxide is the top choice. The sedation dentistry technique takes effect quickly, and the effects don’t linger when treatment is complete – a few minutes after a dental procedure, a patient can drive themselves home.

How Oral Sedation Helps Dental Patients

Oral sedation, administered in the form of a pill, starts working before a dental procedure begins. Patients take the medication ahead of time, either the night before or a few hours prior to treatment, as directed by their dentist. Additional sedatives may be administered at the time of the appointment to ensure maximum relaxation, and because this type of anesthesia contains anti-anxiety medication, it stops the chemical reactions in the body that make patients fearful.

What does oral sedation feel like?

Once the medication kicks in, anxiety begins to fade away. Patients feel pretty groggy, and some even take a short catnap. However, sedation dentistry techniques don’t actually induce sleep, so patients are able to respond to the instructions of the dental team.

The effects of oral sedation are more powerful than laughing gas. The medication wears off within a few hours, but it does diminish cognitive and motor function. That being the case, dentists don’t allow patients who choose oral sedation to get behind the wheel.

Which Sedation Dentistry Option is Right for You?

When you consult with a Jacksonville dentist, they’ll go over your anesthesia and sedation dentistry options. Your safety is the primary concern, of course, and depending on your personal circumstances, you may not have much say in the matter.

Why not? Well, if you’re on any prescription medication, your dentist will need to consider the potential for drug interactions. Beyond that, for some patients – including pregnant women, people with liver or kidney disorders, and anyone with a history of substance abuse — the risk of using a certain sedation dentistry technique may outweigh the benefits.

Barring any of those concerns, your dentist may allow you to select the sedation dentistry option you prefer. However, your insurance may not offer coverage for laughing gas or oral sedation. In that case, you’ll have to pay out of pocket, and the cost may guide your decision. On the other hand, at some Jacksonville dentist offices – including River Oaks Dental – affordable dental payment plans are available.

Do you struggle with dental anxiety? Dr. Monteiro, the leading dentist at River Oaks Dental in Jacksonville, Florida, has completed advanced training with DOCS, the go-to source for education in sedation dentistry. For expert dental care with a compassionate touch, contact us today.

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