If you ever have a conversation about dental procedures with someone who has gone through one recently, you will realize that different folks have different types of experiences. Depending on the nature of the procedure, some will claim they came out without much trouble while some will passionately describe the painful experience in full detail all the way down to nerve or area in question. More often than not, the different “types” of experience are often related to the type of sedation the patient was put on. It can be safely said that the negative cases are typically those where sedation either wasn’t done properly or it wasn’t quite effective resulting in a painful experience for the patient.
Generally speaking, people believe sedation means falling asleep with the help of a drug, but actually that’s not quite right. The fact is that there are various levels of sedation, such as:
Minimal Sedation: When you are awake but feel relaxed.
Conscious Sedation: When you are half asleep and half awake i.e. you may fumble your words and also do not remember everything. It essentially feels like a dream.
Deep Sedation: When you are around 90% asleep and 10% awake.
General Anesthesia: When you are completely asleep.
But wait! Here is where it gets really interesting.
You see, it turns out that the way you give sedation is important! Specifically, there are 3 main ways to administer sedation:
Laughing Gas: Inhaling nitrous oxide. This falls in the minimal sedation category.
Oral Sedation: Typically a blue pill like Valium taken by mouth should give state of relaxation. However for some its not enough and may need to be boosted up. This is where excitement happens, with intra-venous.
Intra-venous (IV): This form of sedation achieves the best results since the dentist can control drug effects faster. Once in the vein, the drug takes 22 seconds to reach the brain with IV Sedation. Hence, IV Sedation route is the fastest route to get “bumped up”. This cannot be achieved by taking oral sedation, since the drug has to be digested first. Another reason why we use the intravenous route is that it is very safe. For instance, if you need a reversal agent — we can administer it! Don’t forget that when seeking an IV Sedation, the dentist must be credentialed with the state board.
To conclude, sedation has become a common part of dentistry today.