Sedation Dentistry

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Sedation dentistry refers to the use of sedation during dental treatment. Sedation is most commonly used during extensive procedures, for patients with dental phobia or for patients who find it difficult to sit still. Sedation is endorsed by the American Dental Association and is an effective way to make many patients comfortable during their dental visit.

Before using a sedative or anesthetic, it is important to tell your pediatric dentist about any medications or medical treatments your child is receiving. Before administering any sedative or anesthetic, your pediatric dentist will talk to you about the process of sedation and pre-and post-sedation instructions.

Types of Sedation

Nitrous Oxide 

Nitrous oxide, more commonly known as "laughing gas," is often used as a conscious sedative during a dental visit. The gas is administered with a mixture of oxygen and has a calming effect that helps phobic or anxious patients relax during their dental treatment. After treatment, the nitrous is turned off and oxygen is administered for 5-10 minutes to help flush any remaining gas. The effects wear off almost immediately. Nitrous oxide rarely has side effects, although some patients may experience minor nausea and constipation.

Oral Conscious Sedation

Through the use of sedatives and pain relievers, oral conscious sedation produces a relaxed state of consciousness to lessen pain and discomfort. Patients who receive oral conscious sedation are still able to speak and respond to questions during treatment, and express any pain or discomfort they may be having, although they may remember very little or nothing about the procedure. Other side effects include headache, nausea and vomiting.

General Anesthesia

General anesthesia puts a patient completely to sleep during a dental procedure. The anesthesia can be administered in a variety of ways, including injection, gas inhalation or through an IV, depending on the circumstances. Aside from keeping the patient unconscious, the sedation also acts as an amnesiac, causing the patient to forget the events immediately before and after the procedure. General anesthesia is very safe under trained supervision. Dr. Sanchez-Hernandez has privileges at the Children's Hospital of Alabama. All general anesthesia cases are seen at the hospital where the anesthesia department provides services.  

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