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If you’re going to be sedated for an upcoming dental procedure, you might be wondering exactly what to expect. At Mill Dam Dental Care, we love sedation dentistry because it allows us to keep our patients comfortable while receiving the dental care they need. It’s a great option not only for intensive procedures, but also for patients that struggle with dental anxiety. Here’s what to expect if you have an upcoming sedation dentistry procedure.

Why do Dentists Use Sedation Dentistry?

1. Physical Comfort

The most common reason for offering sedation dentistry is to help our patients feel more comfortable during intensive procedures that could be painful. Not only does this make the entire procedure more comfortable, but it also makes it much easier for the dentist to work. This is because  the patient won’t be physically tense during the procedure. This lack of resistance means the dentist can work much more quickly and precisely.

2. Strong Gag Reflex

In the same vein, we also use sedation dentistry when a patient has a very strong gag reflex. A strong gag reflex can make it very difficult or even impossible to perform certain procedures, and sedation dentistry can help with this.

3. Dental Anxiety

Many people struggle with anxiety about going to the dentist. This anxiety can range from mild stress to full-blown phobias. Sedation dentistry can help patients feel much less stressed about their upcoming procedure, regardless of whether or not the sedation is physically necessary. By offering sedation dentistry, we can help encourage patients to get dental treatment that they might have otherwise avoided. 

Additionally, children or adults that struggle with sensory issues may have issues getting through a dental appointment. Sedation can help make these patients more comfortable while  making it much easier for the dentist to work as well.

Before The Appointment

During your initial consultation, your dentist will talk to you about the different kinds of sedation  available for your procedure to help determine which one is best for you. This is a great time to ask any questions you may have about the upcoming procedure. 

The preparation for a dental sedation procedure is fairly minimal. For patients who are undergoing inhaled sedation, it is usually safe to eat, although it is best not to eat too much to avoid nausea. If you are having oral conscious sedation, you shouldn’t eat for six hours leading up to the procedure, although you can drink water or apple juice. 

If you are undergoing IV sedation, your dentist will likely ask that you avoid eating in the 12 hours before the procedure. You may also be asked to avoid alcohol in the days leading up to the procedure. 

For all sedation procedures, you should wear comfortable clothing and shoes. You should also check with your dentist about whether you should take any other medications during your appointment.

Inhaled Sedation

Inhaled sedation is very minimal and is best for patients who have mild dental anxiety. We use nitrous oxide to help you relax during the procedure. However, you will still be awake during the procedure and you will be aware of what is happening. 

We administer the nitrous oxide through a mask. You will feel sedated and relaxed very shortly after inhaling. Nitrous oxide is very gentle and its effects will start to wear off shortly after your procedure ends. Depending on the type of procedure you are having, your dentist may also use a local anesthetic to ensure that you don’t feel any pain or discomfort.

Oral Sedation

Oral sedation is more intense than inhaled sedation, but less intense than IV sedation. For this type of sedation, you will need to arrive at the office about 30 minutes before your procedure starts to take the sedative in either a tablet or liquid form. We use an oral sedative called Halcion, which will make you feel relaxed and very drowsy. However, you will still be aware of your surroundings. 

With this type of sedation, you will usually feel very foggy and won’t feel any pain or anxiety. You will be able to respond to the dentist, but your response will likely be very delayed. Many patients do not remember much of the procedure afterwards, even though they are awake while it is happening.

IV Sedation

IV sedation is the most intensive kind of sedation available and is used for the most complex procedures. With this type of sedation, you will be hooked up to an IV and you will start to feel the sedation in just a few minutes. With this type of sedation, you will be completely asleep, so you won’t be aware of your surroundings or feel anything at all.

After The Procedure

If you are receiving inhaled sedation, you may feel completely normal shortly after the procedure. Most patients are able to get home on their own after this. However, you may feel a bit sluggish or tired for a few hours after, so it’s usually best for patients to take it easy for the rest of the day. 

For oral conscious sedation or IV sedation, you will need someone else to take you home. You will need to take the rest of the day off of work or school and you may need a family member or friend to monitor you for the rest of the day as well. You will likely feel groggy for several hours and probably won’t remember much of the procedure. 

Regardless of what type of sedation dentistry you are undergoing, your dentist will likely call you back in for a follow-up appointment to see how you are healing. 

Sedation dentistry makes common dental procedures more comfortable and less stressful for our patients. If you are looking for a sedation dentist in Virginia Beach, contact Mill Dam Dental today to see how sedation dentistry can make your dental experience better.