What to Know About Dental Anesthesia and Sedation

Have an upcoming dental appointment and worried about the pain? Here is what you should know about using anesthesia and sedation.

Local Anesthesia

When a dentist says they are using local anesthesia, it means that they are simply numbing the area that they are working on. This is done by placing a topical anesthetic on the area so that you don't feel any pain. A needle will then be used to insert Novocaine into the gums to numb the area. However, many people do not know that the needle is not what causes the Novocaine shot to feel uncomfortable, it is from the liquid entering the area and putting pressure inside your gums. Thankfully, the Novocaine works very quickly and any discomfort goes away within a few seconds, not when the needle is taken out.

Nitrous Oxide

Your dentist may suggest using laughing gas, which is also known as nitrous oxide. This gas works pretty fast and gives you the ability to relax and get through the dental procedure. It can produce a tingly feeling as you start to breathe it in, but it works to ease your mind rather than ease the pain. You'll still need local anesthesia to deal with the pain, but the laughing gas makes it so that you feel much calmer. The nice thing about nitrous oxide is that it stops working as soon as the gas is removed, so you can go about your day after the dental procedure.

Oral Sedation

Some people do not like the sensation of nitrous oxide, so the dentist will recommend oral sedation. This is done by giving medication that will reduce anxiety. The dentist will give a low dosage of the medication about an hour before the dental procedure. The dentist will check in with you to see how you are doing and may give an additional dose if the medication is not working to help ease anxiety. The downside of oral sedation is that it can last for a while after your dental procedure, so you may need to take the whole day off. 

IV Sedation

IV sedation is a very strong form of dental sedation. You are awake during the whole procedure but may forget everything that happens while you are under sedation. This means that you'll be able to respond to requests from your dentist, but be so far under sedation that you'll be a bit groggy and slow to respond. Dental sedation may be used in situations where a patient does not respond to nitrous oxide or oral sedation.

To learn more about sedation dentistry, contact your dentist.