Woman having sedation dentistry performed on her

Sedation Dentistry in Anchorage: Options for Anxiety-Free Dental Care

Are you one of the many people for whom your regular visit to the dentist or dental procedures are a source of anxiety? We know that this is the case for many people, both children and adults. However, those days are behind us as dentists now have a variety of tools to help reduce anxiety and stress during procedures. Sedation dentistry allows patients with a fear of the dentist to take control of their oral health. By reducing that stress and giving you the confidence to come and see us, we can keep your teeth in top condition!

Health Centered Dentistry offers multiple sedation options to provide the most comfortable, anxiety-free experience possible. Learn more about the benefits of sedation dentistry for routine care, surgical procedures, and more – and learn the difference between the different types of sedation available to patients at HCD for adults and children.

Wondering how you can get a healthier smile without crippling anxiety? Set up a consultation at Health Centered Dentistry to discuss sedation dentistry options in Anchorage.

What Is Sedation Dentistry?

Sedation dentistry, or dental sedation, is a broad term that refers to multiple methods designed to help you feel calm and free of anxiety during treatments. Some types of sedation keep you awake and aware, while with others, you sleep through the entire procedure. Whichever you choose, you avoid the feelings of anxiety and still get to have healthy teeth, a win-win! As part of our holistic approach to dentistry, you can begin to see your phobia of the dentist fade as you no longer feel the anxiety or pain while visiting us.

Types of Sedation Dentistry

4 Options for Sedation Dentistry in Anchorage Infographic

There are different types of sedation dentistry that may suit some patients better than others or be more suitable for certain procedures than others.

There are four main types of sedation dentistry that can be used:

  • Nitrous Oxide
  • Oral Conscious Sedation
  • IV Sedation
  • General Anesthesia

Nitrous Oxide

You might be thinking about a dental procedure beyond your routine check-up, such as having your old silver amalgam fillings removed, but are nervous about getting back in the dentist’s chair. Also known as “laughing gas,” nitrous oxide is a chemical compound that takes the form of a colorless gas and can be used to alleviate anxiety during dental procedures. During sedation dentistry, nitrous oxide is inhaled to help people relax while remaining awake. Because the patient is awake, the dentist can give instructions and ask questions to ensure a smooth and comfortable experience.

If you opt for this form of sedation, you feel relaxed and don’t notice any pain. Throughout the procedure, the dentist is able to adjust the flow of the gas, keeping you awake but ensuring that you don’t feel any anxiety. After the treatment is finished, pure oxygen is inhaled instead, which pushes any remaining nitrous oxide out of the lungs for a speedy return to normal. At this point the visit is complete, totally anxiety-free, and leaving you able to return to your day, even driving yourself home.

Oral Conscious Sedation

The next form of dental sedation, oral conscious sedation is even simpler. The dentist provides the patient with an oral medication that eases anxiety while leaving the patient awake. The medication is taken approximately one hour ahead of the dental procedure, either as a pill or as liquid medication. Examples of some of the medications that are used for oral conscious sedation are Halcion, Valium, zaleplon, or lorazepam. Typically, liquid medication is preferred for children.

In some cases, patients feel groggy or drowsy, or even fall asleep, after the medication is taken. However, it is a shallow sleep, and the dentist will be able to wake the patient easily if they need to ask a question or give instructions. Because these medications can affect motor skills and memory for a short period, it is important to have someone else drive the patient home afterwards. Regardless, the dental experience itself will have been positive and anxiety-free.

IV Sedation

IV (intravenous) sedation is especially suited to those with a severe dental phobia or who need extensive treatment. Prior to beginning the dental procedure, an IV is inserted through which the dentist is able to give sedative medications. During the procedure, the dentist monitors the patient’s vital signs and is able to make adjustments to these medications if necessary.

For most people, IV sedation means that the patient is asleep throughout the procedure. Additionally, they don’t remember much, if anything, about the procedure afterwards.

General Anesthesia

General anesthesia is a less commonly used form of sedation dentistry. It can be extremely helpful for patients with particular needs, young children, or those with severe dental phobia. General anesthesia can only be administered for dental sedation by dentists with specialized training, or by specialist anesthesiologists.

The patient is fully unconscious and is unable to feel anything during the procedure or remember anything about it afterwards. The effects of general anesthesia are longer-term than for other forms of sedation and therefore it is vital that the patient has a friend or family member to take them home and ensure that they are safe and comfortable before leaving them alone.

Why Should I Choose Sedation Dentistry in Anchorage?

Health Centered Dentistry is committed to providing a healthier, evidence-based alternative to conventional dentistry. While we take a more natural, whole-body approach to dentistry, we still provide top-notch, professional dentistry and oral surgery backed by the most innovative dentistry tech, a qualified staff, and a wide range of services. As a result, we offer services that take account of our patients’ mental wellbeing, as well as their oral health.

Sedation dentistry in Anchorage is popular for a number of reasons. Some people feel that have dental anxiety or dental phobia. In some cases, this can take the form of fearfulness as a person walks into the dental practice. For others it is a fear of needles or claustrophobia that causes anxiety at the dentist.

There are other reasons why your dentist might recommend sedation dentistry to you. Aside from just fear, a hyperactive gag reflex, a TMJ disorder, extremely sensitive teeth, or a lack of sensitivity to local anesthesia might all be a reason to use sedation dentistry. For adults and children with special needs, including physical, behavioral, or cognitive challenges, sedation dentistry can be of great help in ensuring that teeth stay healthy.

There are other benefits of sedation dentistry in Anchorage. For example, your dentist can do more during each visit, so you won’t have to make several separate appointments. Perhaps more importantly for some, it can eliminate the fear and anxiety associated with a visit to the dentist. In both cases, a patient who is more willing to go to the dentist will have healthier teeth in the long term.

Is Sedation Dentistry in Anchorage safe?

As part of our holistic approach to dentistry, is committed to providing high quality, evidence based, and safe sedation dentistry. However, most forms of sedation do come with unavoidable side effects. We have mentioned some of these already, including grogginess or drowsiness after the procedure. Other side effects include a dry mouth, headache, nausea, or even vomiting. For IV sedation, sometimes the area where the IV was inserted can bruise.

At HCD, we pride ourselves on providing dental care for the whole family, our sedation services are available for children as well as adults. It is important to note that side effects of sedation dentistry can be different for children. They may snore, experience high body temperature, have nausea and vomiting, or feel irritable. Additionally, some children won’t wake up in the usual time, and in these cases the dentist will observe them until they are ready to go home.

If you have a consultation about sedation dentistry with us in Anchorage, your dentist will go over all the possible risks and side effects so that you can make an informed decision. For many, the side effects are outweighed by both the lack of anxiety, and the resulting improvement in tooth health over the rest of their life.

How to Get Sedation Dentistry in Anchorage

A consultation with the patient or parent of the child who will be receiving treatment is the usual first step. During this discussion, the dentist will assess the need for sedation dentistry and will work to find the best level of sedation for the patient and the treatment. This consultation can also include time to discuss financial options to reduce that stress as well.

Once the dentist has gone over all the options and recommended a course of action, it is up to the patient to decide whether to proceed with the treatment. If the patient wants to go ahead, an appointment is made, allowing time for the specific type of sedation and the dental work. At this point all the patient needs to do is come to the appointment. After, the patient can go home, or in some cases go on with their day, feeling relaxed and healthy!

If you want to experience relaxing and anxiety-free dental visits, set up a consultation with Health Centered Dentistry to discuss sedation dentistry in Anchorage.