The Specialist

Sedation dentistry manages dental phobia and promotes good oral care

The number one reason for many Bahamians’ neglect of dental care is their fear of dentists. Also, patients develop nervousness about their dental appointments or suffer from a very sensitive gag reflex. These avoidances cause severe neglect, suffering and painful consequences.

In this column, sedation dentistry and its benefits will be addressed.

Sedation dentistry focuses on managing dental phobia, and relieving stress and pain through some form of sedation. The three types of sedation dentistry are nitrous oxide sedation (laughing gas), oral sedation (take a pill or drink a liquid) or IV sedation (sedation induced by medication attached to your veins). All three methods have their place within sedation dentistry, but your medical history and other factors will determine the right choice for you.

Nitrous oxide (laughing gas)

Nitrous oxide is a safe alternative for children and adults. Patients are aware and awake during the procedure.

If a patient has a dental phobia, your dentist may recommend laughing gas to promote relaxation. It only takes a few moments for the laughing gas to start working.

Unlike other types of sedation dentistry, laughing gas is quick to wear off. This means that you’ll be able to drive yourself home or return to work. If your child had laughing gas, they’ll be able to return to school after their appointment.

Laughing gas is a safe and predictable solution for dental fear. It can be used during teeth cleaning and any other procedures.

Oral sedation

Getting very relaxed during a dental appointment could be as easy as taking a pill.

Your dentist will write a prescription for oral (pill) sedation. Since oral sedation makes you feel drowsy, you’ll also need someone to drive you to and from the office.

If your child receives oral sedation, you’ll need to keep them home after their appointment. You’ll need to supervise your child for the rest of the day while the medication wears off.

Taking the pill approximately one to two hours prior to the procedure allows time for the proper dental care to be administered, which contributes to a healthy smile.

Oral sedation is not sleep dentistry because you are still awake during the procedure. Using a pill puts you in a deeply relaxed state such that you are still able to follow commands.

IV sedation

In IV sedation dentistry, an IV line is inserted into a vein in your arm. The IV line provides a steady flow of medication. You would then experience a slight unconscious state.

You can feel safe and secure while in the dentist’s chair, knowing that you are receiving quality dental care without the stress and pain. Your vital signs are monitored to ensure you are breathing properly.

IV sedation is called sleep dentistry or twilight sleep. It is very effective for long procedures or if chronic medical issues prevent one from sitting in the dentist’s chair over long periods. Although IV sedation is considered safe, most procedures are performed in a hospital or surgical center that is fully equipped for the unlikely cases or emergencies. When awakened, one may feel groggy and disoriented. For this reason, you’ll need to arrange for someone to drive you home after the procedure.

Sedation dentistry addresses some of the most common fears that keep people from going to the dentist on a regular basis. As a result, patients are less likely to neglect their oral health or allow oral health problems to worsen, which means drastic dental treatments become necessary.

Don’t let fear or anxiety delay treatment. Whether you need oral or IV sedation, or nitrous oxide sedation your dentist would like to provide the best dental experience.

Sedation dentistry has been a game-changer for many patients to feel confident and calm at their dental appointment.

• Dr. Kendal V.O. Major is the founder and CEO of the Center for Specialized Dentistry, which is a comprehensive family dental practice operating in New Providence and Grand Bahama. He is the first Bahamian specialist in gum diseases and dental implants since 1989. He is also a certified fast braces provider. His practice is located at 89 Collins Avenue, New Providence. He can be contacted at (242) 325-5165 or

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