Sedation Dentistry

Dental patient relaxing.There's so much dentistry can do these days to make your mouth healthier and your smile more beautiful. Yet many people don't take advantage of this because of a long-standing fear of dental treatment. If you are one of these people, rest assured that it's possible to have an experience that's free of anxiety and pain. This can be accomplished by blocking your sensations of pain with local anesthetics or by giving you medication that can help you relax. Sometimes both are needed to ensure maximum comfort, especially if you are someone for whom the injections that deliver local anesthetics are themselves a major source of anxiety.

When you are afraid of dental treatment, your guard goes up and your pain threshold goes down; anticipating that something will hurt makes you hypersensitive to every sensation — even sound. If this describes your experience in the dental chair, then you might benefit from sedatives that can be given during your visit to make that anxiety melt away.

Before any particular sedative is recommended, you will be asked to provide your complete health history, including any medications you are currently taking — both prescription and over-the-counter. It is also important to know if you smoke or drink. On the day of your treatment, you may need to have someone drive you to and from your appointment as certain medications take time to wear off.

Ways to Relieve Anxiety

Oral sedation.Oral Sedation — Oral sedation (given by mouth) is a popular option for many people precisely because it does not require the use of needles. Oral sedatives are either swallowed whole in pill form or can be dissolved under the tongue. Both methods work in a matter of minutes. A variety of oral sedative and anxiolytic (anxiety-dissolving) medications have been developed through extensive research and testing to make your experience of dental treatment as comfortable and relaxing as possible. All have long safety records after decades of use, and several even have “amnesic” properties, meaning you will remember little to nothing, even though you are conscious throughout the treatment. Commonly prescribed medications include Valium®, Halcion®, Sonata®, Ativan®, Vistaril®, and Versed®. To learn more, view our chart on Types of Oral Sedatives

Conscious sedation.Inhalation Conscious Sedation — Nitrous oxide, a sedative you inhale, has been used in dental offices for nearly 100 years. It is a relatively poor pain reliever but a very good anti-anxiety medication. It is administered through a nasal hood, which resembles a small cup that is placed over your nose. The oxygen mixed with nitrous oxide provides a light-headed or even euphoric feeling, which is quick to wear off so there is no “hangover” effect. All bodily functions remain essentially normal during the use of this sedative, which is very safe.

IV Conscious Sedation — Sedatives delivered directly into the bloodstream intravenously (into the vein) are more potent than when taken orally, and the amnesic effects may be more profound. Because IV sedation has an almost immediate effect on the body and its functions — including heart rate, blood pressure and breathing — there is a higher degree of risk associated with it than with other types of sedatives. There is also a higher level of training required for those who administer it. As with all sedation (except nitrous oxide), you must be monitored with specialized equipment throughout your IV sedation treatment. The main advantage is that drugs administered this way work immediately and the level of sedation can be adjusted more quickly and easily. And with most sedatives, you won't remember a thing about your dental procedure after the sedative wears off.

Related Articles

Oral Sedation Dentistry - Dear Doctor Magazine

Oral Sedation Dentistry Step out from under the shadow of fear and into the calm of sedation dentistry. There are safe and time-tested options available to ensure that you have a positive and painless dental experience. Your apprehension and hypersensitivity to pain melt away, yet you remain awake and in control... Read Article

Dental Fears - Dear Doctor Magazine

Overcoming Dental Fear & Anxiety Do you feel relatively calm before your dental appointment or are you a little nervous about a visit to the dental office? Do you worry about it days or weeks before the appointment? Are you actually terrified of it? Whichever end of this spectrum you might be on, you are not alone. It's possible, even for those who are the most afraid, to reduce that fear and to learn to have treatment in a way that feels calm and safe. Here's how... Read Article

Local Anesthesia - Dear Doctor Magazine

Local Anesthesia for Pain-Free Dentistry Local anesthesia is one of the most effective tools in dentistry and medicine. It is safe, effective and has totally revolutionized pain control. Without local anesthesia, some dental procedures would be quite stressful for all involved. It's good for you and for your dental professionals... Read Article

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Testimonials

What Our Clients Say About Us

  • "The staff are always so accommodating and friendly, no waiting and very good and thorough dental work"
    Sherri W.
  • "I rated 10 on the question about referring a friend because I have done so. She went yesterday and I asked her about the experience and she was very pleased. No surprise here!! I have always felt that the people who help me, including Dr. Alpert, treat me and my dental health at a level of attention far above that required to simply do a job. They show a genuine concern about my welfare; I need their help; I am glad they are there. As Dr. Alpert said on my last visit about a potential issue, they will “keep an eye on it” for me. I find that vigilance genuinely re-assuring. Over the years I have have come to appreciate that re-assurance as a form of good medicine."
    Robert W.
  • "Very friendly staff! Dr. Alpert is a very good Dentist. I have been very happy with the quality work he has done on my teeth. I highly recommend him!"
    Martha L.
  • "I had a very good experience there, everyone was very friendly professional and good at what they do. I had a cleaning which was virtually pain free and 2 fillings done in one visit.
    I will be going back to this dentist and would recommend to anyone that I know."
    Harold H.
  • "I have been going to the Dental Care of Waterford for over 50 years. The receptionist(s) are eager to make you feel welcome and relaxed. Becky, the hygienist is caring and efficient.
    Dr. Lloyd Alpert does a thorough exam and addresses any concerns and asks if there is still problems.
    The staff is quick to respond to any concerns their patients have.
    I would highly recommend Dental Care of Waterford, MI."
    Barbara R.
  • "haven't had the ability to see a dentist in over 3 years due to Covid and loss of insurance. Now that i was able to seek dental care i was able to schedule an appointment within 3 days of calling to have a cracked filling taken care of... Staff is amazingly friendly and considerate of any needs and even asked if I had insurance just to make sure I could have X-rays done and not have to pay for my visit with one of my kidneys. Dr. Alpert is wonderful! Explained everything that he was about to do and how it might feel. completely painless and fast visit for a filling nonetheless. I definitely have found my new dental office and can actually say I look forward to my cleaning!"
    Kelly S.
  • "This was my first visit to Dr. Alpert's office. I was referred by a friend. Everyone was so nice and knowledgeable. I had the most thorough cleaning I think I've ever had. Everyone put you completely at ease. I highly recommend this dentist."
    Karen M.
  • "Ever been in a situation where you have a dental emergency and call about 20 dentist offices trying to get in? I have and Dr. Alpert's office was the only office to get me in within 24 hours. They were able to help me with my shattered tooth problem totally painlessly. Anytime I've been in for a cleaning, the wait has been minimal. The staff is friendly and professional. I'm in and out in no time. I would highly recommend Dr. Alpert to anyone in the area for last-minute needs and cleanings. His offer is a little hard to spot but it is right off M59 and there is ample parking"
    Alexandrea L.