Occasionally a patient may become anxious and be unable relax. There are forms of conscious sedation that allow a patient to relax and/or become sleepy. Forms of conscious sedation may involve inhaling a gas, taking an oral medication, getting an injection or receiving medication intravenously.
Patients who are more anxious may need an oral medication that is stronger than nitrous oxide. With oral sedation, the patient may be sleepy but can be aroused if necessary and can respond to simple commands. Minor side effects such as nausea or vomiting can occur with some medications. Before a visit in which a patient is to receive oral sedation, he/she should receive instructions about eating and drinking, what to expect and what to watch for after treatment. Patients may need to stay for a short observation period after dental treatment has been completed and/or need assistance to get home after sedation.
Nitrous Oxide Sedation
Nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, is most often used for patients who are mildly or moderately anxious or nervous. It eases their fears so that they can relax and receive treatment comfortably and safely. Nitrous oxide is administered by placing a small mask over the patient’s nose. As the gas begins to work, the patient becomes calm, although he or she is still awake and can talk. When the gas is turned off, the effects of sedation wear off almost immediately.