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Dental Concerns and Treatments That Require Sedation

Many people dread a trip to the dentist. In fact, recent research found that 36% of the population suffers from dental anxiety, which experts linked to dental avoidance (the deliberate refusal to visit a dentist) and impaired oral health. So whether bad childhood experiences or a cheap horror movies are the cause, folks throughout the U.S. bypass their dentist. 

If you suffer from this kind of anxiety, reach out to Smile Reston Heights. We made “peace of mind” a foundation of our practice, and we believe that includes managing nerves. Whether your concerns regard non-invasive services or specialized procedures, we offer affordable sedation dentistry to residents of Oakton and Northern Virginia. Instead of a general anesthesia, we utilize nitrous oxide to help patients relax without putting them completely under. 

Some folks might find sedation for non-invasive services excessive or unnecessary, but the practice is relatively common. Here, we classify sedative substances and then list common concerns and treatments that require their usage: 

Kinds of Sedatives

First, we must distinguish between substances used for sedation. Surgeries at general care hospitals frequently require general anesthesia, usually composed of several medications. This puts patients totally “under” (that is, makes them completely unconscious), so they are unaware of the procedure. 

However, dentists and oral surgeons only require that level of sedation for extended, complex procedures. Common treatments, including tooth-pulling or cavity-filling, can be accomplished with a gentler sedative: nitrous oxide, also known as “laughing gas.” This substance causes slurred speech and slow responses, but patients remain aware of their situation. And where a general anesthesia may cause drowsiness for hours afterwards, nitrous oxide lasts for about 15 minutes (depending on dosage).

Common Reasons for Sedative Requests

As mentioned earlier, patients ask about sedation dentistry for reasons other than invasive procedures. Frequently-heard concerns include the following: 

  • Gag reflex: a patient’s involuntary gag reflex may make simple dentistry actions challenging. Sedation can calm this reaction and thereby reduce the obstacle it poses. 
  • TMJ pain: temporomandibular joint discomfort can make routine care excruciating. If a patient struggles to open their mouth without pain, sedatives can help relax tense muscles and allow for smoother jaw function. 
  • Sensitivity/nerves: when a patient struggles to relax, his or her nerves may become overly sensitive and cause excessive pain. Sedation eases anxiety and helps patients remain calm while the dentist works. 

Treatments Requiring Sedation

Finally, several procedures necessitate the use of sedatives. These treatments are more invasive than simple teeth cleaning and whitening. Plus, sedatives can ease patients through the extended time and greater complexity of these operations:

  • Wisdom teeth removal: many folks have their wisdom teeth taken out in their teens, and the process generally requires nitrous oxide or anesthesia. Given wisdom teeth’s position in the mouth, their removal is far easier with sedation. 
  • Dental implants: if a tooth or teeth require replacement, sedation can smooth the process (particularly if the tooth loss springs from an injury). 
  • Jaw surgery: this might be considered closer to surgery proper than other dental treatments. Nevertheless, such an operation calls for extensive, invasive work. 
  • Emergency treatment: whether due to an accident or a long-term condition turned dangerous, emergencies may require sedation. Should it be necessary, Smile Reston Heights offers 24/7 emergency dental services.

Smile Reston Heights: Dedicated Dentists for Oakton and Northern Virginia

Whether you need extensive work or an office to help with your dental anxiety, Smile Reston Heights provides the resources for your perfect smile. Our sedation dentistry services are available to all residents of Oakton and Northern Virginia. 

Reach out to us at (703) 345-1100 or fill out our online form and ask us about overcoming your dentistry worries. 

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