Boston Sedation Dentistry
For many patients, the thought of going to the dentist provokes feelings of anxiety, fear, and even shame. At Boston Center for Oral Health, we are committed to making our patients feel as comfortable as possible when they walk through our doors. Our Boston dentists Dr. Carmine Morreale and Dr. Richard Varnerin are experienced in providing conscious sedation dentistry options to ensure that every patient can access the high-quality dental care they need, without worrying about the negative feelings or sensations normally associated with a trip to the dentist.
What is conscious sedation dentistry?
Conscious sedation dentistry refers to the use of medications to help patients relax during dental procedures. It is called “conscious” sedation because patients will feel relaxed and drowsy in some cases, yet they will still be awake. This means that patients can breathe normally and respond to verbal cues from our dentists, but they will feel no pain. Depending on the level and form of sedation received, the patient may not remember the visit at all.
What types of sedation options do you offer?
Our team at Boston Center for Oral Health can provide:
- Nitrous oxide (laughing gas)
- Oral medications to reduce anxiety
What is nitrous oxide?
Nitrous oxide (often referred to as “laughing gas”) is a sedation option that involves the patient inhaling a gas which eliminates pain and induces a pleasurable feeling. The gas is administered via a comfortable mask placed over the patient’s nose. The patient begins to feel a pleasant level of sedation within a few minutes. The cheeks and gums will also begin to feel numb for some patients.
After the gas is adjusted to the appropriate dose, and the patient is relaxed and sedated, the dentist can comfortably give an anesthetic injection to the patient (if needed), and then proceed with dental treatment. After the treatment is completed, the patient is given pure oxygen to breathe for about five minutes and the effects of sedation are usually reversed. Because of this, patients are typically able to leave the office independently and do not require an escort or someone to drive them home.
Nitrous oxide is safe and effective and has few side effects. However, for a small percentage of patients, a high dose may cause nausea. Patients that are claustrophobic or have blocked nasal passages cannot use nitrous oxide effectively.
What are oral medications to reduce anxiety?
Oral medications can be prescribed to certain patients in order to reduce anxiety during dental visits. The most commonly prescribed medications for treating dental-related anxiety belong to the “benzodiazepine” family, including drugs such as Valium, Halcion, Xanax or Ativan. These drugs decrease anxiety by binding and toning down activity within fear receptors in the brain. Depending on the level and type of oral medication prescribed, patients may experience a state of calm, relaxation or even drowsiness.
Because benzodiazepines are central nervous system (CNS) depressants, they may cause a drop in blood pressure or slowed breathing. For this reason, these medications must never be mixed with other CNS depressants, including alcohol. Patients should always have an escort with them to travel home after taking an oral sedative medication, as it is very common to experience drowsiness or feel disoriented afterward.
Am I a candidate?
Sedation dentistry is an ideal option for patients who fit the following description(s):
- Patients who want to complete their work in as few appointments as possible
- Patients with a severe gag reflex
- Patients who have fear or anxiety about the sounds, smells, and sensations associated with a dental office
- Patients with high dental phobia
If you have questions or would like more information about our sedation dentistry options, contact our office today.