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.

Ways to Relieve Anxiety:

Conscious sedation.Inhalation Conscious Sedation — Nitrous oxide, a safe 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 to moderate level of sedaton.  Patients have reported feelings of light headedness, euphoria (which is why it's often called laughing gas), tingling or sleepiness.  All bodily functions remain essentially normal during the use of this sedative.  Because the effects wear off as soon as it's discontinued you will not need a driver for after the appointment.  Nitrous oxide is NOT effective for those who have higher levels of anxiety, cannot breathe freely with their noses or  easily experiences claustrophobia.

Oral sedation.Oral Conscious Sedation — Oral sedation (given by mouth) is a popular option for those needing a deeper level of relaxation.   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.  You will have a comprehensive evaluation to see if you are good candidate for oral conscious sedation.   Generally speaking, healthy adults are great candidates for sedation but we will do a full assessment of your health to ensure a safe and effective experience. We ask that you provide us with a comprehensive list of any medications, supplements and recreational drugs (along with dosages) that you are taking.  

Dr. Angela Toy is trained and licensed to administer  a combination of oral medications to produce a safe and comfortable state of relaxation.   There may be times that nitrous oxide will be used in conjunction with the oral medications. You will NOT be unconscious.  You will still be able to respond to verbal instructions and breathe on your own. Additionally, your vital signs will be monitored at all times.  Because you are in a sedated state,  a designated driver and someone who can monitor you after the procedure is mandatory.

Oral Conscious Sedation a great option for patients who:

  • Have moderate to high anxiety about dental treatment
  • Have a strong gag reflex
  • Have difficulty getting numb
  • Have TMJ problems or difficulty staying open for extended periods of time
  • Have extensive treatment needs but limited time in their schedules
  • Dread the idea of sitting through really long appointments

What are the benefits?

The medications used for conscious sedation are very safe and can produce an amnesic effect.  That means you will have very little, if any, memory of the sights, smells or sounds of your visit.  It is common for our sedation patients to have very minimal, if any, post-operative discomfort.  You will feel fantastic the very next day!  You will also be amazed at how much was accomplished in such a seemingly short period of time while you were totally relaxed and comfortable.

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.  Dr. Angela Toy does NOT offer this type of sedation but we will be happy to assist you in finding an IV sedation dentist.

Ask us which sedation option will be best for you! Call our Newberg, OR dental office at (503) 538-2143!


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