There are both conscious and unconscious sedation methods. In conscious sedation methods, a patient is awake during the procedure, but the anxiety of having the treatment is lessened by a combination of medications and nitrous oxide (laughing gas). Unconscious sedation is not use in our clinic.
Oral Sedation (A Conscious Method)
If your dentist determines that oral sedation will work best for your procedure, he will write a prescription for a a sedation pill, which is taken 30 to 60 minutes prior to the procedure. The purpose of the pill is to make you feel relaxed and sleepy, taking the “edge off.” You will have the ability to speak, and to open and close your mouth on your own. Someone will need to drive you to and from the procedure because it is unsafe to drive under the influence of the medication. Some patients who have experienced oral sedatives describe the sensation as similar to being drunk. The medication wears off in about 4 to 6 hours, depending on how strong the dose was, but there are usually no lasting effects, as there would be if a person were intoxicated with alcohol. In some instances, if a patient is too nervous leading up to the treatment, the dentist may also prescribe a sleeping pill the night before the treatment in order to allow the patient to get sufficient rest.
Nitrous Oxide (Conscious Method)
Often referred to as “laughing gas,” nitrous oxide is gas given to you through a tube, much like an oxygen supply. The gas decreases anxiety and offers the same effect as oral sedation methods. Some patients prefer nitrous oxide over pills because the effects are shorter and you will be able to drive to and from your appointment.