What’s one of the biggest reasons people avoid the dentist? Pain. Some will avoid getting treatment for their chronic dental issues because they’re afraid it will hurt. While procedures like tooth extractions, bridges, and crowns can be painful, modern dentistry has developed a variety of successful pain management techniques. Here are a few methods your dentist might use the next time you need an in-office oral procedure.

About Sedation Techniques

To combat pain and anxiety caused by dental visits, sedation therapies help patients relax while the dentist works in their mouths. There are different levels of sedation:

Minimal – the patient is awake and aware but is fully relaxed.
Moderate – the patient is awake but awareness is skewed. Slurred speech and temporary amnesia may occur. These effects are not harmful.
Deep – the patient is mostly asleep but can be easily broke back to full consciousness with gentle direction.
General – the patient is fully unconscious and unaware.
General sedation is rare and mostly used on young children or those who cannot cooperate. Discuss your needs with your dentist to determine which option is best for you.

Sedation Via Nitrous Oxide

Nitrous oxide, sometimes called laughing gas, is a type of minimal sedation. A mask delivers the gas to the patient in an oxygen mixture. When inhaled, the gas causes the brain and body to relax. This is one of the most common methods of sedation for oral procedures. There are many advantages to nitrous oxide sedation during oral surgery.

Once the gas is started, the effects can be felt in moments. The effects also wear off quickly, so you aren’t stuck feeling dopey or sleepy.
Nitrous oxide sedation is one of the safest methods of controlling pain. There are almost no side effects after treatment.
The amount of medicine delivered is easily adjustable. If you need more pain relief quickly, the doctor can ease your distress in seconds.
Once the gas is working, your dental surgeon will use topical and injectable anesthetics to make your procedure pain-free.

Conscious Sedation

For procedures that require lots of pressure like root canals, your dentist may suggest conscious sedation. A combination of medications is delivered to the blood stream using either an intravenous line or a shot into the muscle. Patients will feel drowsy and may think they are sleeping. During sedation, it is common to experience slurred speech. Some people have blurry memories of the procedure or can’t remember it at all. These effects are not serious and fade quickly.

Oral Sedation

For more flexible pain management options, your dentist may choose to sedate you using a combination of medications taken orally. Typically, a dose of anti-anxiety medication is given to the patient. Within 30 to 60 minutes, the patient is relaxed enough to tolerate oral procedures. This method works well for those who want a minimal to moderate sedation while avoiding needles.

Don’t avoid getting the dental treatment you need because you’re afraid it will hurt. Talk to your dentist about options for managing pain during oral surgery.