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What is Sedation Dentistry & How Does It Work?

December 14, 2021
a dentist performs a procedure on a relaxed patient

Dental anxiety is common, but even patients who aren’t nervous at their dentist’s office are likely to have some level of anxiety when visiting the endodontist for the first time because they don’t know what to expect. While there are many misconceptions about root canal treatment, most patients find that their experience at our office is much more comfortable than they anticipated. One of the ways we help patients manage their anxiety is through sedation dentistry.

Sedation Options for Endodontic Treatment

Our endodontists specialize in treating patients with dental anxiety and they will consult with you to choose the best sedative option for your needs. They will consider a variety of factors, including your anxiety level, overall health, medical and sedative history, and the extent of the endodontic treatment you need.

Inhaled Sedation

Inhaled sedation is more commonly known as nitrous oxide or laughing gas. There are no long-term adverse effects from nitrous oxide because it acts quickly and wears off just as fast. Inhaled sedation is both safe and effective; you will feel relaxed and calm, but remain fully conscious and aware of your surroundings. This inhaled sedation is used with local anesthetic to ensure that you are completely comfortable and pain-free during your endodontic treatment.

You will be able to drive yourself home after an endodontic treatment with nitrous oxide sedation. Although most nitrous oxide side effects are minor, some individuals may experience nausea, lightheadedness, headaches, or feelings of heaviness in their limbs.

Conscious Oral Sedation

Your endodontist will prescribe a single sedative pill for you to pick up from your preferred pharmacy if you require conscious oral sedation for your procedure. You'll take this medication as directed prior to your procedure to help you relax. Most patients remain awake, but it’s possible that you may doze off during your treatment. Oral sedation does not wear off as quickly as inhaled sedation, so you will need transportation to and from our office.

Conscious oral sedation has similar side effects to nitrous oxide. Feelings of dizziness or lightheadedness, sleepiness, and nausea are among the most common. We recommend that patients take the rest of the day off of work or school if they have conscious oral sedation for their endodontic treatment.

The Bottom Line on Sedation Dentistry

Modern root canal treatment is usually no more painful than getting a cavity filled thanks to our advanced equipment, techniques, and local anesthetic. When you come in for your initial consultation, your endodontist will go over exactly what you can expect from your endodontic treatment. Often, simply knowing what will happen and feeling comfortable with your doctor is enough to help alleviate any anxiety a patient is experiencing.

Still, sedation is available if you are anxious about your upcoming appointment. It’s our goal that you feel as relaxed as possible during your endodontic treatment, so if you have anxiety or dental phobia, you can feel comfortable addressing this with your endodontist and asking about sedation endodontics.

Learn More About Sedation Dentistry

If you’d like to learn more about your options for sedation dentistry during endodontic treatment, contact us today.

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