Even though nitrous oxide has been used in dentistry for decades, many people still hold misconceptions about dental sedation. For example, some people think sedation is only used for root canals or during extensive, complicated oral surgeries. Can you separate fact from fiction? Let’s bust some common dental sedation myths!
Myth 1: There Is Only One Kind of Dental Sedation
There are actually three common forms of dental sedation. Perhaps the most popular is nitrous oxide, a colorless, odorless gas that puts patients at ease during basic dental procedures. The gas is mixed with oxygen and administered through a small mask that fits comfortably over the nose. Other types of dental sedation include:
- Conscious Oral Sedation – A pill taken at a certain time before your appointment.
- IV Sedation – Sedation that is administered intravenously (through the veins).
Myth 2: Nitrous Oxide Will Give You the Giggles
Even though nitrous oxide is often called “laughing gas,” you likely won’t be fighting back laughter while your dentist is working inside your mouth. Instead, you will feel extremely relaxed and maybe even a bit tingly. Nitrous oxide does not put you to sleep, so you will be able to hear and respond to any questions or instructions from your dentist.
Myth 3: Dental Sedation Is Not Safe for Children
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, nitrous oxide is a safe and effective way to sedate children who need dental treatment. Even if your child does not need oral surgery, nitrous oxide can help if they have trouble sitting still or have a strong gag reflex. In addition, dental sedation can help ease the nerves of kids who are afraid of visiting the dentist.
Myth 4: Dental Sedation Always Takes a Long Time to Wear Off
One of the major benefits of nitrous oxide is the fact that it wears off almost immediately after your dentist removes your mask. Within 15 minutes, you will likely feel fully alert and will even be able to drive yourself home or back to work. On the other hand, the effects of oral conscious sedation and IV sedation do to tend to linger a bit longer.
Myth 5: Dental Sedation Works for Anyone
Most healthy adults who need a root canal or other extensive dental work make great candidates for sedation dentistry. However, dental sedation is not an option for everyone. Specifically, dentists may advise against sedating patients who are:
- Allergic to certain medications (like benzodiazepines)
- Suffering chronic bronchitis or respiratory disease
- Suffering from a cold that results in a stuffy nose
- Taking medications that could have negative side effects when mixed with oral sedation
Ultimately, every patient’s case is unique. Whether you need dental sedation – and what type of sedation is best for you – will depend on a number of factors. Before beginning any treatment, your dentist should clearly communicate to you which type of dental sedation will be used and what to expect.
About the Author
Dr. Gregory C. Gell has over two decades of experience helping people overcome dental pain through root canal therapy and other treatments. At Afton Endodontics, he utilizes nitrous oxide to ensure patients feel comfortable throughout their procedures. To bust even more dental sedation myths, visit the Afton Endodontics website or call 704-784-4625.