HEALTHWATCH: Different Levels of Dental Sedation

Published: Jun. 8, 2023 at 1:01 PM CDT
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - In this morning’s Healthwatch, we got a deep dive into how sedation and other alternatives can be beneficial to treating fearful patients while sitting in the dentist’s chair.

“Sedation is a wide range, or we call it a continuum, of altering the way someone perceives things,” StarImage Dentistry Dr. James Green said.

In dentistry, there is a range of different levels of sedation depending on what they are treating.

This range can be sedation for pain or even just fear. The first level of sedation is nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas.

“It’s very common, the vast majority of dentists provide that in their offices. In our office, we have patients that use it even for their hygiene appointments, for cleaning, and for gum treatments; it’s a very minimal level but it just relaxes the patient,” Green said.

When the dentist finishes with the procedure, they turn off the gas pulling the nitrous oxide from your bloodstream, giving you the ability to walk out with no problems. The second level of sedation is oral sedative along with nitrous oxide.

“Those are for longer appointments, that has more of a sedative effect so people call it sleep dentistry. So, patients actually go to sleep with that. It’s not a general anesthetic it’s not a general sedation, it’s more for anxiety but it does stay with you for the day. So you can’t go drive, you have to take a day off when you do it that way,” Green said.

The next level is called moderate, where they use multiple oral drugs creating a deeper sedation.

“We use that for appointments that are longer. 2 to 3 to 4 hour long appointments. People will oftentimes sleep through that. They are very comfortable and it can sometimes give a little amnesia where people don’t even remember the appointment,” Green said.

Dr. Green said this is a great option, the next level up is IV sedation, it’s where they put an IV in similar to when you go to the ER.

“We usually use that for some of the shorter procedures, that’s very common for oral surgery, for wisdom teeth removal. The oral surgeons use it for most of their procedures and it really just depends on the level of anxiety, the procedure, and your dentist,” Green said.

With the different types of sedation, overall there aren’t any side effects other than becoming lightheaded. However, Dr. Green shared some information on alternatives that they use for their patients who are scared of going under, a process called Nucom.

“Which is a non-medicated, non-drug, it is not really a sedation but more of a relaxation technique. so we have headphones that have music with venereal beats embedded, that goes and tells the brain it’s time to relax and switch from the autonomic to switch nervous system. So you go from fight or flight to rest and relax with drugs or medications,” Green said.

For Dr. Green, his patients are his top priority and one benefit of sedation is to help fearful patients.

If you’re fearful, talk to your dentist about the procedures you need to have done and your options.

More information can be found here.