Nitrous Oxide (N2O) – offers a very light level of sedation. Often called “laughing gas,” nitrous oxide is a colorless gas that we can give you to help you relax. It is very safe when professionally administered, and it works extremely well to reduce the anxieties in many dental patients. Approximately one-third of all dentists use nitrous oxide in their offices. It is often used to sedate a patient for a short period of time, or in conjunction with another sedation medication. In general, it delivers a very good, light sedation for patients who have some anxiety with dental visits, especially during some more invasive procedures. Very often it is used for a short period of time when the doctor is preparing or removing a tooth and thinks sedation would make things less stressful for you. The effects of nitrous oxide has been described as “dreamy”, but you will remain awake. Once the nitrous oxide is off, patients usually feel normal again very quickly, and can almost always drive themselves home after the appointment.
Oral Sedation – Oral sedation is a wonderful option for patients who need more than just nitrous oxide, but don’t need or want IV Sedation or general anesthesia. It allows many people to be comfortably sedated through an entire dental visit using just a small pill. Generally, you will be given a prescription for a pill to take before your appointment. Since this is sedative medication, you will need a companion to drive you to the appointment and bring you home. This medication often doesn’t make the person fall asleep, it simply reduces any anxiety a person might have prior and during the appointment. When it is safe for you to travel, your companion will take you home, and then you will rest comfortably for the rest of the day.
I.V. Sedation – as it implies, involves the administration of sedative medications through an I.V. These medications allows the patient to become relaxed and largely unaware of the procedures being performed but at a deeper level of sedation than nitrous oxide or oral sedation. I.V. sedation is not like “general sedation” in which a patient’s breathing and airway are maintained by an anesthesiologist like in a hospital. Patients under I.V. sedation are able to control their own breathing and respond to commands, but without any remembrance of doing so. The placement of the I.V. allows the dentist to closely regulate the dosages of medications given during the entire procedure. If needed be the dentist can raise or decrease the amount of the sedation from patient at any time during treatment.