Most trips to the dentist are routine enough – you lay back in the chair, an oral hygienist gets you a few xrays and checks on your teeth in general, the dentist comes in to make sure there are no cavities, and you're brushed, flossed, and sent on your way. But when your dentist does discover a problem, no matter if it requires a simple dental extraction or a complex procedure like a root canal, there may be a talk about sedation – putting you out in one way or another to help deal with the pain that comes from these procedures. So if you're curious about what types of dental sedation that your dentist can recommend to you for your in-depth procedure, then here's what you need to know.
A Laughing Matter
Nitrous oxide, more colloquially known as "laughing gas," is one of the older forms of dental sedation (dating back to 1844) and is one of the more calming methods for people undergoing oral surgery, as it allows them to stay awake while still not feeling the pain. While it also has a number of other uses (it is commonly as a general anesthetic in hospitals; though due to its relatively weak power, nitrous oxide is usually mixed with another anesthetic), its most common use is in dentistry. Its nickname comes from the fact that inhalation of nitrous oxide induces a general feeling of euphoria, along with its numbing qualities, often causing laughter. It's also notable for its slightly sweet taste, making it by far the most palatable of dental sedation tools.
Pop a Pill
A step up in sedation power, oral sedation doesn't quite put you out but does alter your consciousness, putting you in a dream-like state during the surgery. This sedation is achieved by swallowing a pill a few hours before your dental appointment; you'll have to have someone else drive you to and from the dentist's office, however, making it a questionable choice if your only means of getting to your appointment is to drive yourself (though services like Lyft and Uber are perfect for dental sedation appointments). Oral sedation is usually used in conjunction with a local numbing agent, taking away any anxiety you may have about the appointment and ensuring that you won't feel any pain.
This method is probably the first image that comes to mind when you hear the word "sedation" – general anesthesia. General anesthesia puts you under, making you unconscious for the entirety of the oral surgery and is usually the surgery of last resort, used when no other method will work, as it must be performed by an oral surgeon. The benefit of general anesthesia is that all you have to do is show up, go to sleep, and wake up once the surgery is over – which for you, will feel like only a second. Anesthesia does take a bit to recover from, however, and you'll likely feel foggy for the rest of the day.