7 Sedation Dentistry Myths

Posted: Apr 28, 2020 in

Some forms of sedation dentistry, such as nitrous oxide, have helped better patients’ experiences in their dentists’ chairs since the 1800s. But some patients avoid talking to their dentist about sedation due to one of these 7 misconceptions.

1. “All Sedation is the Same”

Dentists actually employ four common kids of sedation, which can produce varying degrees of sedation. These four kinds of sedation are:

  • Oral Sedatives: A dentist may prescribe oral sedatives, such as diazepam, for a patient to take before a procedure. These sedatives do not block pain, but they do relax the patient. Local anesthetic is also used during the procedure.
  • Intravenous Sedation: A dentist may use IV sedation during the course of a procedure to help the patient remain relaxed. Like oral sedatives, IV sedation does not provide pain relief and anesthetic is still required.
  • Nitrous Oxide: Inhalation of nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, may be combined with local anesthetic to decrease a patient’s stress.
  • General Anesthesia: General anesthesia renders a patient unconscious and eliminates the need for local anesthetic. General anesthesia is typically only used during major oral surgeries such as wisdom teeth removal.

If you opt for sedation dentistry, your dentist will consult with you on your needs and preferences and tailor the medication and method of administration to you.

2. “It’s Too Expensive”

Sedation is more expensive than traditional anesthetic. However, for patients who suffer from severe anxiety, lack of movement control, or high tolerance to common anesthesia, sedation is often worth the extra cost.
Sedation dentistry can also allow your dentist to perform multiple procedures during a single appointment, which saves you time, stress, and money in the long run.

3. “It’s Only for Major Procedures”

Many people equate general anesthesia with dental sedation. This gives the impression that sedation is only available and necessary when undergoing major oral procedures such as root canals and periodontal work.
Your dentist may provide sedation options for other procedures as well. Many patients find oral sedation or inhaled sedation helpful during minor procedures. The relaxing effect of sedation decreases stress.

4. “It Can Last for Days”

Some patients fear that sedation could keep them groggy for days, which would prevent them from driving, returning to work, and keeping their obligations. This is of particular concern to patients who experience the effects of traditional anesthesia for longer than they should.

Dentists tailor the exact amount of sedative to each individual patient and procedure. In some cases, your dentist will be able to manipulate the sedation to last only as long as your visit. More often, intravenous and oral sedation will wear off within a few hours of the procedure.

5. “It’s Dangerous”

No invasive procedure is without some risk. However, the sedation techniques used in modern dental offices are time- and lab-tested for safety purposes.

Certified sedation dentists are subject to rigorous safety protocols which ensure:

  • The patient receives the correct dosage
  • Staff members monitor the patient’s heart rate, blood pressure, and blood oxygen levels for any dangerous changes while sedation is in use
  • The staff members in the office are prepared for any emergency situations which may arise

If you have questions about how your dentist’s office performs sedation procedures, ask your dentist. He or she will be able to explain the process and provide you with a copy of the office’s credentials.

6. “It Requires a Painful Needle Prick”

Approximately 20% of the population suffer from some fear about needles and injections. Often, this phobia prevents patients from submitting to important medical procedures.
Luckily, dentists can administer dental sedation with a variety of techniques, including:

  • Pills taken by mouth
  • Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) which uses electrical impulses instead of medication to provide pain relief Inhalation of gaseous sedatives
  • Computer controlled doses which prevent the unpleasant sensation of medication entering the body

If you suffer from a fear of needles, that needn’t keep you from receiving the most affective anesthetic available. Talk to your dentist about their sedation administration options.

7. “Sedation Only Affects Pain and Anxiety”

Sedation dentistry can prevent pain and decrease anxiety associated with a trip to the dentist’s office, but it has other purposes as well. Sedation can also make procedures easier on the patient and dentist by:

  • Controlling the gag reflex
  • Increasing involuntary movement control
  • Increasing patient cooperation
  • Limiting memory of the treatment
  • Making patient more comfortable

This is helpful in situations where the patient is unwilling or unable to control themselves long enough to complete important dental care procedures. This is common for young children, patients with overactive gag reflexes, and patients with special needs.

Don’t let these myths prevent you from taking the best possible care of your mouth. If you think sedation could help you have a better experience the next time you’re in your dentist’s office, talk to your dentist. Sedation dentistry has helped thousands of patients feel more comfortable while taking care of their oral health.