Afraid of the Dentist?
There are different levels of sedation. The most basic level is generally nitrous oxide, because what you’re doing there, or laughing gas. That’s where you’re breathing something. The nice thing about nitrous oxide is it does reduce a lot of anxiety. General public generally has some anxiety, almost everybody does. I have to admit, I’m the dentist, and I’ll have anxiety when I go to the dentist. So that really relieves it. The nice thing about nitrous oxide is, you’re only under the influence of it while you’re breathing it. Once you stop breathing it, you’re back to normal immediately. So it has a lot of pros there.
But a lot of people require a little bit more. So the next step up is generally what we call oral conscious sedation. What that is, where we’re prescribing medication that the patient takes generally the night before, and then the day of the procedure, and then can be given to them throughout the procedure, depending on how long the procedures are going to take that day. So if a person has a really long appointment, it will gear toward this one. What that does is that really relaxes the patient, helps them have no memory of the procedure, they will fall asleep a lot of times, or they will have this conception that they are asleep, however they are conscious in a sense that I can talk to them. So that I can say, “Can you open,” and they’ll open their mouth. “Can you close, are you comfortable?” And they’ll say yes. So that’s really nice because that is still an outpatient type of thing. They generally will need a ride home. But that’s the next level.
There is another level up, that is IV sedation or general anesthesia, where it’s just like when they say in the movies, count back from 10: 10, 9, 8, you’re gone. That generally does cost more, it’s a little more expensive to do that. It can be more risky, but at the same time, there are benefits there. But by and large, I think the majority of patients were able to overcome almost all obstacles just with oral conscious sedation. They’re able to get the work they need in a timely fashion, and there’s no cost to them other than what the cost is for medication at the pharmacy. We don’t charge for that because we just think of it as part of the service because we’re trying to get them help.