If you’re afraid to visit your dentist, you’re not alone. Dental anxiety and fear is fairly common, but that’s why we have sedation dentistry! Using sedation, your dentist can calm your nerves and make for a very comfortable appointment – whether it be a cleaning, checkup, or even something more extensive. When it comes to sedation, however, you have several options; oral medication, nitrous oxide (also known as ‘laughing gas’), IV sedation, and even general anesthesia. Each method of sedation is different, just like each patient – depending on your severity of anxiety, your dentist will recommend the sedation that will best optimize your comfort level.
Nitrous Oxide (Laughing Gas)
For mild to moderate anxiety, your dentist may recommend nitrous oxide. With this form of sedation, you’ll breathe through a mask placed over your nose throughout the appointment. When inhaling the ‘laughing gas’ you’ll start to relax and may even feel a slight tingling.
Nitrous oxide is one of the most commonly used methods because it’s extremely quick to wear off, as you only experience its effects while breathing the gas, and is very safe – it’s been used for over 100 years! With sedation dentistry, you may be worried about being groggy afterward or feeling sluggish – but with ‘laughing gas’ that’s one worry you don’t have to have. You’ll still be able to drive yourself to and from your appointment!
IV sedation is often used for more severe cases of anxiety and dental fear. Just as it sounds, the sedative is injected intravenously and goes directly into your bloodstream. As opposed to the conscious sedation you’ll feel with nitrous oxide, IV sedation may relax you enough to where you fall asleep! But, it is similar to ‘laughing gas’ in that your dentist can adjust the levels of your sedation throughout the appointment, although the effects of IV sedation do take longer to wear off.