If you are very anxious about having dental treatment, then sedation can be a helpful option.

There are three types of sedation

Oral sedation: anti-anxiety tablets or liquid.
Intravenous sedation: drugs are given into a vein.
Inhalation sedation: nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas or relative analgesia.

There are advantages and disadvantages in having sedation, and each type of sedation comes with it’s own pros and cons. If it is something you would like to consider then talk to your dentist.

Advantages of Sedation

It makes you feel relaxed and drowsy.
It enables you to have treatment that you would find hard to have
Some forms of sedation remove the memory of the appointment.

Disadvantages of Sedation

It is not an option if you are unable to get to the dentist in the first place.
You may think that the only reason you coped with treatment was because you were sedated: especially if sedation gives you memory loss.
If you have difficulty trusting people then you may feel vulnerable, if not at the time, then later.
It is not always readily available.
Some types of sedation require that you are accompanied for several hours until the effects have worn off.
You may fear that your ability to communicate your needs to the dentist is impaired.

Inhalation Sedation (‘happy gas’, ‘laughing gas’, ‘nitrous oxide’, ‘gas and air’, ‘relative analgesia’)

This type of sedation can make you feel relaxed and perhaps even find things funny whilst having your treatment.  It is not suitable for everyone or for all circumstances (for example, in the first trimester of pregnancy or if you can’t breathe through your nose).  It has the advantage that its effects wear off quickly which means you do not need to be supervised in the same way that you do with other sedation methods.  It also has some painkilling effects.  It is most commonly used with children.

If you decide that sedation is the right thing for you (and your dentist agrees) then make sure that you know what your motivation is.  It should not be because you want to give the dentist “an easy life” or be because you perceive yourself as “difficult” or “silly.  Sedation is not right if you feel coerced or you want to have it for the dentist’s convenience.

Availability of Sedation

In order for a dentist to provide sedation, they need to have specialist equipment and specialist training.  This means that sedation is not always readily available.  As an alternative, working together, we can develop new coping strategies to deal with or even eliminate your dental fear, dental anxiety or dental phobia.  The counselling could also help you in other areas of life.

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