Comparing Dental Sedation and Anesthesia

Many patients feel nervous about undergoing dental work. But modern dentistry has gone to great lengths to make patients feel more comfortable and relaxed in the dentist’s chair. This includes developing sedation dentistry, a medication designed specifically to keep patients calm as they receive dental treatment.

But you might also hear about local anesthetics and general anesthesia as treatment options available to patients during dental work, which differ from sedation. What do each of these medicines do for you? Read on to learn about dental sedation and how it compares to anesthetics as well as anesthesia in dentistry.

pediatric dental sedation treatment options

Local Anesthetics

For most dental procedures, your dentist will provide you with a local anesthetic. This is a type of medication intended to numb the affected area so that you will feel no discomfort as the dentist works.

Your dentist will first use a topical anesthetic for additional comfort during the application process. Then the dentist uses an injection to deliver the medicine directly to the nerve. It stops the nerve from sending pain signals to the brain.

The anesthetic will last for a few hours and wear off on its own after your dentist appointment. You will remain fully alert as this medicine does not affect your consciousness at all.

Sedation Dentistry Options

Sedation dentistry refers to the medicine a dentist can give nervous patients to induce a calm feeling during dental work. This comes in several types that vary in administration and effects.

Nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, is breathed by the patient through a mask. It relaxes the patient while they stay awake. The effects fade when the patient breathes normally again, so they can drive home without issue.

A dentist may also give a patient oral sedation via a tablet taken before the appointment. The patient will remain conscious but have no memory of their dental treatment. They will need to arrange a lift home after their procedure.

IV sedation is another option that involves medicine administered intravenously. It induces drowsiness as well as calmness. The sedation will not wear off immediately, so the patient will need a ride home from their dentist’s office. Discuss these treatment options with your dentist to learn if they are right for your unique dental needs.

General Anesthesia

General anesthesia is another type of medication that affects a patient’s consciousness and sensitivity. Often delivered intravenously, this medicine allows a patient to feel numb as well as unconscious, depending on the needs of the procedure.

Dentists often reserve this option for extremely anxious patients or particularly invasive procedures, such as wisdom teeth extractions. You will likely only need this type of treatment during oral surgeries from a specialist.

If you have questions about sedation, anesthesia, and the effects of these medicines, call your dentist. You can discuss dental fear and what will occur during your treatment during a consult. Schedule a dentist appointment by calling 910.469.4592.