Dentistry has been the leader in the development of outpatient sedation and general anesthesia techniques, implementing them in a safe and cost-effective way long before the current trend towards outpatient surgery and anesthesia in medicine.
Sedation refers to the practice of inducing a state of relaxation and psychological comfort in a patient without causing loss of consciousness. The patient may fall asleep but is not induced to sleep. He or she is always able to be aroused by speech or with gentle physical stimulation. The protective reflexes remain intact. The predominant purpose of any sedation technique is to relieve the anxiety of the patient and shorten the perceived time span of the procedure.
Nitrous Oxide Sedation
Nitrous oxide is a clear, practically odorless gas which can be used by any dentist with a modest amount of training. Nitrous oxide is usually delivered to the patient by way of a nasal mask. The rate of delivery and patient-controlled depth of respiration permit selection of lighter or deeper levels of sedation. Uptake is rapid, with sedation and analgesia occurring within one to two minutes. Similarly, recovery is rapid.
Oral sedation is very acceptable to patients, as most are accustomed to taking pills. Oral sedation has a low incidence of side effects. The most commonly used drugs often produce an adequate level of sedation and relaxation. Oral agents are usually effective only for the mildly to moderately anxious, yet reasonable, patient. The drugs are administered about one hour prior to the planned procedure. It is essential that the patient have someone present who will drive them home.
During IV (Intravenous) sedation, an anti-anxiety agent is administered into the bloodstream to achieve a state of "deep conscious sedation.” Although you will not actually be asleep, you will enjoy a heightened state of relaxation and probably won’t remember much about the procedure afterward. Your appointment will be a dream and hours in the chair will feel like minutes. IV sedation will put you at ease; however, your dentist will also administer a local anesthetic to ensure that you don’t experience any pain. At this point in you’ll be so relaxed that you’ll hardly even notice.
Throughout the procedure, your breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure will be closely monitored. Patients generally recover quickly, although they may still feel slightly groggy immediately afterward. IV sedation is extremely safe when delivered by a specially trained dentist or anesthesiologist. On the day of your procedure, you will need to have another adult with you to take you home. You should not perform strenuous activities, drive a motor vehicle or drink alcohol for the rest of the day. Do not take any medications prior to or following surgery unless your dentist has approved their safety.