The history of sedation dentistry goes all the way back to the 1770s when the United States was in its infancy.
In 1772, a man named Joseph Priestly first isolated this gas. Decades later, English chemist Humphry Davy became aware of the anesthetic benefits of inhaling the gas.
In the 1840s, American dentist Horace Wells used the gas on himself. The use of nitrous oxide faced a setback, however, after a failed demonstration in 1845.
It wasn’t until the 1860s that nitrous oxide came into more common usage in dental and medical care.
Today in our office in San Antonio, “laughing gas” is still used today as part of our sedation dentistry along with oral conscious sedation and IV sedation. You may have heard of dental sedation, but you may not know how they are different.
Today, we will try to explain what they are and why you may be interested in taking advantage of them.
Nitrous Oxide For Mild Anxiety
We have learned a lot about nitrous oxides in the past 200 years including how to administer it correctly and safely.
It remains an excellent option to help patients who experience mild dental anxiety. One of its biggest benefits is that is a fast-acting form of dental sedation that also wears off quickly.
To receive nitrous oxide, all you have to do is breathe. When you sit down for a dental cleaning or other procedure, we will put the mask in place and you will start inhaling the gas.
You may notice a light-headed or euphoric feeling. (Some patients feel a little giddy, hence its nickname.) As long as you continue breathing the gas, you will remain calm and relaxed, and you won’t feel any pain.
At the end of your treatment, we just need to turn the gas off. You will naturally exhale any nitrous oxide that remains in your system. In a few minutes, you will feel normal again, and you can go on with the rest of your day.
Oral Conscious Sedation For Moderate Anxiety
If you anxiety is closer to fear of the dentist, then you may want something a little stronger than nitrous oxide to feel relaxed.
We want you to know from the outset that you should make arrangement for a family member or friend to drive you to and from our office if you choose to undergo this kind of dental sedation.
Oral conscious sedation is as simple as taking a pill before your appointment. If you take it as directed, you will likely be feeling its effects by the time you arrive in our office. (This is why you must have someone else bring you here.)
Many patients feel groggy or drowsy, and several fall asleep after taking the medication. While you are sedated, you won’t feel any pain, and you won’t remember much if anything about your treatment.
The effects of oral sedation can last for a few hours. You should plan to rest after your family member or friend takes you home.
IV Sedation For Severe Anxiety
IV sedation is the strongest form of sedation that we offer. Only people who have completed special training and certification are allowed to administer IV sedation.
If you have severe fear of the dentist, this is an option that is available to you. Even if you don’t have dental anxiety, you may want this kind of sedation if you are undergoing a longer, more complicated procedure.
This kind of sedation can be more strictly controlled so we can keep you in a “twilight state” in which you are not aware of what is going on, but you are able to respond to questions from the dentist.
As with oral sedation, the effects of IV sedation will linger after you leave the dentist’s chair. You must have someone else available to drive you home, and you may want to take a nap afterward.
Is Dental Sedation Right For You?
The best way to find out is to come in and talk to one of our dentists. They can explain the benefits of each kind of sedation and help you understand which kind may be a good option for you.
We want our patients to remain relaxed and feel comfortable throughout their visits. This makes your visits more pleasant, which also makes it easier for our staff to provide you with the preventive or restorative dental care that you need.