Going Under: Sedation Facts Every Dental Patient Needs To Know

As a patient, knowing what will happen when you undergo sedation is important. Typically, sedation is safe, and you may want to use it if you're overly anxious about your appointment or have a low pain tolerance. Here are a few interesting facts about sedation that you need to know, so you know which kind of sedation or numbing agent to request during your next visit to the dentist.

Anxiety And Pain Relief: When Sedation Fails

One thing many people don't realize is that pain relief methods may not be as effective if you're upset or anxious. Interestingly, injection drugs such as Novocaine can be dissipated by the body due to anxiety, and that means it will take a lot more of the drug for it to work.

Sedation can fail if a person is too anxious, and that's why it's often given with an anxiety medication such as laughing gas (nitrous oxide). With the combination of the drugs, you'll feel more relaxed and be fully numb. If you've ever had your numbing agent wear off too soon in the past, this may be an option to ask for.

Laughing Gas: It's Not Really Funny

Although nitrous oxide has the nickname, "laughing gas," it doesn't actually make you laugh. It can give you a sense of intoxication, which is similar to being drunk, but it wears off quickly as soon as the gas is turned off. 

Nitrous oxide is always administered with oxygen, because it can actually cause suffocation if it's given alone. Most dental procedures can be performed with the assistance of laughing gas if a patient is anxious. Interestingly, while the drug is known to relax and calm patients, it also has the side effect of causing anxiety when it's first given, so remember that you may feel a little worse before you feel better. 

Novocaine and Local Anesthesia: For Numbing the Pain

Local anesthesia is the most common numbing agent a patient receives during dental procedures. This anesthesia is given for cleanings if the teeth are in poor shape and when dentists are drilling to fill cavities.

If you're sensitive to needles, you may want to ask for the topical numbing gel first before the Novocaine is given via injection. This gel makes it so you won't feel the insertion of the needle for the Novocaine, which is used to fully numb your nerves in and around the tooth being worked on.

Combining Tactics For An Easy Procedure: Reducing The Risks

Most dentists combine these sedation techniques to work best for the patient in question. For example, if you're an anxious dental patient, you may be given laughing gas to calm down, a topical anesthetic to numb your gums, and then Novocaine for a full numbing agent.

If a patient is allergic to Novocaine, then the nitrous oxide could be used to keep them calm and mildly sedated throughout a procedure that would otherwise be painful. Although dentists may not suggest all of these numbing agents, as a patient, you can request to use them for your own relief.

The next time you head to the dentist, like Park View Pediatric Dentistry, don't be afraid; these are options available to you. Be sure to ask for what you need to feel comfortable and relaxed during your procedure.