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Going to the dentist is a different experience for every patient. Depending on the procedure, you may require your dental surgeon to use sedation or anesthesia. 

Dental anesthesia comes in a variety of forms and applications. At Downtown Sleep Dentistry and Oral Surgery, we work closely with our patients to ensure you’re informed and prepared for each procedure. 

Here, we’ll break down the different types of anesthesia, how they work, and when they are used. 

The Difference Between Dental Sedation and Anesthesia

Sedation and anesthesia are similar tools used by dentists to provide a safe, comfortable, and pain-free experience. While both are beneficial, they work in different ways. 

Dental Sedation

Sedation has several levels of strength. 

Minimal sedation: Offers a relaxed sensation with no impact on physical feelings. 

Conscious (moderate) sedation: Allows you to breathe and experience sensations in a semi-conscious state. 

Deep sedation: Deep sedation goes a step further, with only minor consciousness during the dental procedure. 

General Anesthesia

General anesthesia places you into an unconscious state. This ensures that no pain or sensation is felt during the procedure. 

During general anesthesia, vital signs are monitored, and nursing staff is on-site with training in Advanced Cardiac Life Support and Pediatric Advanced Life Support. 

Your dental surgeon will determine which type of sedation or anesthesia is best for you based on your medical history and the procedure. 

Methods of Sedation and anesthesia

Within the realm of sedation dentistry, there are three types used frequently by dental surgeons. These are:

Oral Sedation

Oral sedation can be used on its own or combined with nitrous oxide treatment. It is a moderate type of sedation administered by a tablet or liquid. 

The effects of oral sedation reduce anxiety and place patients in a semi-conscious state. You are awake but feeling peaceful. 

Following oral sedation, you will need a support person to remain with you for the day. Potential side effects include: 

  • Dry mouth
  • Grogginess
  • Dizziness
  • Headache

Oral sedation is a safe and effective way to manage anxiety or fear in the dental office. It is used with patients of all ages. 

Nitrous Oxide

Nitrous oxide is a safe gas mixture that relaxes patients and places them in a consciously sedated state. 

It is sometimes called laughing gas. A dental surgeon or nurse will place a mask over the patient’s face. 

The mask releases nitrous oxide, which is inhaled. This reduces pain and leaves you feeling calm during your dental procedure. 

Nitrous oxide has no lasting effects. When the gas is turned off, the effects stop almost immediately. There are rarely any side effects and patients don’t require assistance following this procedure. 

In fact, you can even drive afterwards.

General Anesthesia Application

General anesthesia allows patients to sleep throughout the entirety of the dental procedure. 

This makes the experience less stressful. You go to sleep, and your dental procedure is complete when you wake up. 

Deep sedation through anesthesia is performed intravenously. This means we use an IV to deliver medicine directly into your bloodstream. The anesthesia works quickly and as soon as it is administered.

General anesthesia best suits patients with extreme anxiety or fear of dental procedures. Your dental surgeon will apply the anesthetic with the help of a trained nurse. 

To be allowed to perform anesthesia treatments, dentists in Hamilton must first undergo extensive training and a multi-year residency. This is regulated by The Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario.

Before using anesthesia, your dental surgeon will ask about prior experiences and medical history. While general anesthesia is a safe and regular practice, there are risks of allergy and other reactions depending on medication or medical conditions. 

Following treatment with general anesthesia, you will require a support person to help you. You may feel groggy as the treatment wears off. 

Which is the Best Type of Sedation?

There’s no one answer to the best type of sedation treatment as a general rule. Every patient and procedure is unique. Your dental surgeon will work closely with you to find the right method of sedation of anesthesia based on your needs. 

If you experience mild anxiety during dental procedures, mild sedation is best. 

It offers the quickest recovery time and requires no support person. If you have extreme fear or suffer from severe anxiety related to dental procedures, then anesthesia might be the answer. 

If you’re worried about choosing the right type of sedation, we can help. 

The dental team at Downtown Sleep Dentistry and Oral Surgery is constantly monitoring the dental and medical industry for changes in sedation and anesthesia. Ongoing training keeps us informed and experienced with each treatment.

Do I need sedation?

You do not always require sedation, as such treatments are not for every procedure or patient. You probably don’t need sedation if you are relaxed during dental visits. 

There are many other traditional pain management techniques that we can use during treatment to diminish pain and sensation.

Before Your Appointment

Before your appointment, you can minimize the risk of side effects and make your dental procedure more comfortable. Some of the ways to improve your overall experience include:

  • Getting a good night’s rest
  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Dressing comfortably

If you are undergoing general anesthesia, then tell your employer that you won’t be working that day. 

Following your procedure, you will feel groggy. If you had any other appointments or meetings that day, they will need to be cancelled. After you’ve undergone general anesthesia you will need to go back to your home and rest. 

For mild sedation using nitrous oxide, you can carry on with your day as normal following your procedure. Depending on the procedure, you may have residual discomfort or numbness. Your dental surgeon will give you instructions on aftercare. 

Contact Downtown Sleep Dentistry and Oral Surgery

If you are interested in learning more about sedation and anesthesia used by dental surgeons, we can help. 

The experienced team at Downtown Sleep Dentistry and Oral Surgery understands how important it is for patients to feel informed and supported before and during a procedure.

Downtown Sleep Dentistry and Oral Surgery works with adults and children across Ontario. To speak to a member of our team today, call us at 1-289-272-8696 or contact us online.