Comfortably Numb: What are my dental sedation options?

Believe it or not, many people fear seeing the dentist or oral surgeon to get work done. Fear drives them to think that a tooth or jaw problem will ‘just go away’ and that they will not have to deal with it if they just wait it out. Unfortunately, though, things do not usually go according to plan and the tooth or jaw problem flares up at the most inopportune time!

While I like to think that I don’t have a scary face, I do acknowledge that many people legitimately fear what I do! Thankfully, being a board-certified specialist in oral and maxillofacial surgery, I can offer patients several sedation options to make them less anxious and more comfortable during dental procedures. Here are some of the dental anesthesia options available at The Davis Clinic:

Local Anesthetic

This is the classic ‘Novocaine’ injection that will numb the area around the tooth or surgical site (although we don’t actually use Novocaine anymore!). You are fully awake but will not feel discomfort during the procedure. You will be able to drive after the appointment and resume most activities.

Nitrous Oxide

This is sometimes known as ‘laughing gas’ because nitrous oxide combats feelings of stress, and gives you an overall feeling similar to the experience of consuming one-too-many alcoholic beverages! If you receive nitrous oxide, you will be able to drive after a short recovery time in the office.

Oral Sedation

There are prescription drugs that combat anxiety in the face of a dental procedure. We may provide a single prescription drug or a combination of prescription drugs that you will take at our office before your surgery and you will need someone to drive you home. In my experience, oral sedation works great for pediatric patients and mildly-anxious patients undergoing procedures that last less than an hour. Very nervous patients and/or procedures that last longer than an hour often require a higher level of sedation. Read on!

IV Sedation

Intravenous, or ‘IV’, sedation puts you in a relaxed state of ‘twilight sleep’ where you are almost completely unaware of your surroundings. With this option, a Registered Nurse gently inserts an IV catheter into one of your arm veins, you are put to sleep using one or more drugs, the surgical procedure is performed and then you wake up asking when the surgery begins! After a short stint in the recovery room you are discharged to the care of a family member or friend who will drive you home. In our office, deep IV sedation using multiple drugs is the sedation option of choice for patients looking for a comfortable experience while undergoing wisdom teeth removal or complex dental implant surgery.

General Anesthesia

Our facility is licensed and accredited just as any outpatient surgical center would be. If we advise general anesthesia, you will be completely unconscious during the procedure, and the anesthesia may be administered by a Dental or Medical Anesthetist. You will spend recovery time at our office and will need someone to drive you home.

That pretty much sums it up! Lastly, bear in mind that not every sedation option is appropriate for every patient in every setting. Talk to your surgeon about which option is right for you.

Happy sleeping everyone!