Almost 1 in 3 people are afraid of the dentist, according to the Dental Organization for Conscious Sedation. It’s one of the most common fears out there. The good news is that today’s technology gives you more options than ever for a relaxing, stress-free, easy dental visit. Specifically, conscious sedation dentistry.
Conscious sedation is the middle path between light sedation and going unconscious through general anesthesia. With conscious sedation, we use the latest technology to make sure you’re still awake, but you’re extremely relaxed. You know that feeling right before you drift off to a peaceful sleep? That’s what conscious sedation feels like.
Types of Conscious Sedation Dentistry
You have several different options for conscious sedation dentistry:
- NuCalm: NuCalm is a groundbreaking way to relax without drugs. (Fun fact: Blodgett Dental Care is the first dental practice in Portland to offer NuCalm!) It puts you in the first stage of sleep for your entire dental visit, without any side effects. NuCalm incorporates dietary supplements, soothing music, a light-blocking mask, and microcurrent stimulation patches behind each ear. And it only takes a few minutes to go into effect.
- Nitrous oxide (“laughing gas”): This is the lightest form of conscious sedation. Breathing in nitrous oxide gas through a nose mask helps you feel calm and comfortable. However, using nitrous oxide is controversial and risky because it can leave you without enough oxygen in your body, according to scientific studies. We prefer not to use nitrous oxide since safer methods of conscious sedation are available.
- An oral sedative: About 30 to 60 minutes before your appointment, you take an oral sedative like diazepam (Valium) or triazolam (Halcion) to help you relax. You either take this in pill form or place it under your tongue, where your body absorbs it quickly. This is a moderate form of conscious sedation dentistry, and someone else should drive you home afterward. If you dislike needles, then NuCalm or oral sedatives are great alternatives.
- IV sedation: This is another moderate form of conscious sedation. At Blodgett Dental Care, we partner with licensed anesthesiologist Dr. Enreque Abreu. Just like in the hospital, Dr. Abreu will hook you up to an IV to administer a sedative intravenously. The benefits of this method are faster results and being able to adjust the dosage during the procedure. We also monitor your vital signs before, during, and after the procedure.
Together, we’ll determine the best form of conscious sedation for you based on your situation, age, health, and the dental work you need.
Should I Try Conscious Sedation Dentistry?
If you are afraid of dental equipment or a dentist’s office like millions of Americans, conscious sedation is a great option for you. Dental anxiety or phobia can manifest as trouble sleeping the night before a dentist appointment, constantly rescheduling appointments, feeling nauseous before a dental visit, or even panic attacks. Know that we empathize with you. We don’t want the dentist’s office to be a scary place. We want to take care of your teeth and gums quickly and painlessly so you can get on with your day.
Conscious sedation dentistry is also helpful for people with a low pain tolerance, needle phobia, sensitive gag reflex, or Parkinson’s disease or cerebral palsy, as it may be difficult to hold still. It also appeals to people who need long dental procedures done. Talk to us about your medical history, and we’ll help you figure out if conscious sedation dentistry is a good fit for you.
How Does Conscious Sedation Dentistry Work?
Conscious sedation dentistry relaxes your brain to the first stage of sleep, either with or without chemical assistance. With NuCalm, you take safe dietary supplements at the beginning of your dental visit that use neurotransmitters to counteract your body’s adrenaline. Within a few minutes, your brain waves are similar to someone who is falling asleep, and you’re physically incapable of anxiety.
If you take medication for conscious sedation, it will likely be a benzodiazepine, the family of medications that includes Xanax and Valium. These medications act on the parts of your brain that process stress and fear. The medication suppresses those impulses while leaving other mental functions, like communication, undisturbed. However, they take time to wear off, unlike NuCalm.
With conscious sedation dentistry, you’re still awake and able to see, hear, and respond to our requests like “open wide” or “bite down.” But in this tranquil state, you won’t feel the anxiety you normally do at the dentist. Not only does conscious sedation dentistry help you drift off to a zen-like state, but you might not even remember the dental work the next day. (Note that conscious sedation isn’t a painkiller, so we will also likely give you a local anesthetic to numb your gums if necessary.)
Not all dentists are qualified for conscious sedation dentistry, but our dentists are, here at Blodgett Dental Care. With conscious sedation dentistry, you don’t have to dread going to the dentist. Get the dental treatment you need today!
Call us at 503-285-3620 to make an appointment or learn more about conscious sedation dentistry!