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  • Writer's pictureBen Tindal, DMD, MS

3 Common Misconceptions about Sedation

Every dentist wants their patients to feel as comfortable as possible during their appointments, which is why most practices offer some kind of sedation dentistry. However, many patients might not even ask about this treatment, assuming it’s not an option for them. If you’re worried about whether sedation dentistry is right for you, here’s the truth behind 3 common misconceptions that can help you relax.

1. SEDATION DENTISTRY KNOCKS YOU OUT Many patients assume that being sedated during their appointment means they’ll be asleep. This can be an intimidating prospect, and the idea of spending hours recovering from being put under isn’t too appealing to those who need to get back to work after their appointment.

However, not all forms of sedation dentistry will knock you out. The most common kind is nitrous oxide, a colorless, odorless gas that helps you feel nice and relaxed, but you’ll remain conscious so that you can answer questions and follow any necessary instructions. You might fall asleep, but the sedation dentist can easily wake you up. The effects take hold almost immediately, but they will wear off quickly after your treatment, meaning it’ll be safe for you to drive yourself home.

2. SEDATION DENTISTRY REQUIRES A SHOT Not all kinds of sedation require a needle. Nitrous oxide is delivered through a mask that’s placed over your nose. You’ll breathe it in throughout your appointment; for safety reasons, your dentist can adjust the gas levels as needed. You’ll be asked not to eat anything for at least two hours before your visit, as this can cause nausea and vomiting. In general, nitrous oxide is considered one of the safest and most widely tolerated methods of sedation in dentistry.

3. SEDATION DENTISTRY IS ONLY FOR PATIENTS WITH EXTREME ANXIETY Nitrous oxide is usually offered as a solution for patients with severe dental phobias that makes it difficult for them to seek treatment. However, even if you don’t have extreme anxiety, you might still be able to benefit from sedation. For example, you might have particularly sensitive teeth or a gag reflex that’s stronger than normal; these conditions can make routine cleanings somewhat difficult and less pleasant, but nitrous oxide can help you stay comfortable. Sedation is also helpful for patients who have trouble relaxing in the dentist’s office for any reason, such as an aversion to the noise made by the equipment.

Wondering whether sedation dentistry is right for you? The next time you schedule an appointment, ask your dentist if they offer nitrous oxide. Tell them why you’re interested in the treatment so that they can figure out the best way to help you. Make your next oral health checkup as pleasant an experience as possible!


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