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Do You Get Put To Sleep For A Root Canal?

May 25, 2022
a man in a dental chair is prepared for a procedure

The phrase root canal can make many patients uneasy. For years this treatment has carried a bad reputation even though it has become one of the most routine dental procedures today. Generally, local anesthesia is used for the procedure to keep the patient awake and comfortable for the duration. Yet, still many people have a great amount of apprehension when it comes to root canal treatment - and those with dental anxiety may require more to get through the procedure. Sedation endodontics can help.

What is Dental Anxiety? 

Dental anxiety is a very real threat to oral health. It halts patients from seeking dental treatment - sometimes until their condition becomes unbearable. Dental anxiety can stem from many different things, including:

  • Previous dental trauma
  • Previous trauma to the head, neck, or face
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
  • Claustrophobia
  • Agoraphobia
  • Unknown sources

When it comes to procedures like a root canal treatment, having dental anxiety can make getting through the appointment can be tough. So, even though it is not routine for patients to be put to sleep for it, sedation endodontics makes it possible.

Sedation Endodontics

While some patients may not find it necessary, others will find there to be many benefits to sedation endodontics. Varying levels of sedation methods can offer patients the opportunity to relax so that they can obtain the treatment they need. Options such as nitrous oxide, conscious oral sedation, or IV sedation are often offered to patients. It is important to discuss your concerns with your endodontist to determine the best course of action for you. The level of anxiety, medical history, and prior sedation history will be taken into consideration.

Sleep or no sleep? It depends on the sedation method.

Nitrous oxide (a.k.a. Laughing gas) is a commonly used method of sedation. It works quickly as you breathe through a small mask that covers your nose. You will remain awake and conscious throughout the root canal but will feel very relaxed.

Another common option, conscious oral sedation, is a prescribed sedative pill that you will take before your appointment. It will help you to greatly relax during your procedure. This does not put you to sleep, but it is not uncommon for patients to feel so relaxed that they actually sleep straight through the treatment.

IV sedation is a much less common option that requires sedatives to be administered through an IV. This greatly reduces anxiety and often puts patients in a twilight sleep. Keep in mind that each endodontist will have a list of sedation options they offer that may or may not include this type.

Benefits of Sedation for Root Canal Treatment

Root canal treatment is not often a long procedure, but it does take time. There are very intricate canals that your endodontist must go through carefully to ensure that all the infection is removed before sealing up the tooth. Leaving anything behind can result in the need for endodontic retreatment.

With a patient who is uneasy and nervous sitting still for the procedure, the root canal can take longer than normal and become more complicated for the endodontist. By using the best-chosen sedation method, everything can go smoothly - and you have the greatest chance of a successful outcome.

At North Shore & Brookline Endodontics, we are sensitive to the dental fears and anxiety of our patients so we take steps to create an environment in which they will feel comfortable and at ease. We offer many different sedation options.

To learn more or to schedule an appointment, contact us at one of our five convenient locations.

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