Dental anxiety is a common phobia, which may affect individuals of any age. It manifests as a fear of undergoing dental treatment or even visiting the dentist for a cleaning. Many people actually avoid going to the dentist because of this fear and as a result compromise their dental health.

Fortunately, there are several different sedation techniques available to help keep patients calm and relaxed during dental visits. Conscious sedation safely allows patients to feel sleepy but still aware during treatment, so that they can be worry-free while receiving the care they need.

Some of our patients from Santa Rosa and the surrounding areas have serious anxiety about visiting Dr. Gonzalez or any dentist. Some fear the sound of the drill; others fear injections of local anesthetic. This anxiety can keep patients from coming in for their twice-yearly professional cleanings and exams with our team. This is bad for their overall dental health.

To help our patients overcome their anxiety we offer sedation dentistry.

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What is sedation dentistry?

Sedation dentistry allows our patients to relax and feel calm during their visit. We offer various sedation options depending upon the level of the patient’s anxiety and what they are comfortable with. Plus, sedation allows patients to group various procedures into a single office visit, making for better use of your time. Sedation has the added benefit of keeping the patient from remembering much, if anything, about his or her visit.


Would I be a good candidate for sedation dentistry?

Patients can misunderstand the difference between sedation and anesthesia. Anesthetic ensures you’ll feel nothing during our dental procedures. Sedation isn’t to handle pain — that’s the role of anesthesia — but to help patients deal with strong feelings of fear and anxiety that arise when they visit the dentist. After receiving sedation and successfully completing their appointment, patients often completely change how they view dental appointments going forward. Sedation could be a great option if you:

  • Have difficulty overcoming anxiety about the dentist
  • Have a low pain threshold
  • Have very sensitive teeth
  • Have a very strong gag reflex
  • Need a large amount of work done

Once you’re sedated and comfortable, Dr. Gonzalez then properly numbs or anesthetizes, the area he is working on, ensuring that your procedure is pain-free.


Benefits of Conscious Sedation

Unlike anesthesia, which is used to relieve pain or to put patients to sleep for complex procedures, sedation focuses on treating anxiety and helping patients feel comfortable so that they can receive the care they need to keep their mouths healthy. Local anesthesia is still administered in most cases to help create a relaxing, pain-free treatment.

Most dentists use conscious sedation, a state that lets patients feel relaxed while remaining awake and able to respond to commands. Patients will not remember most of the procedure with this sedation, but can still respond to commands by the dentist, ensuring that the procedure is performed as efficiently as possible.


Conscious Sedation Treatments

Conscious sedation may be administered using the following methods:

Oral – Oral medication is the most commonly used form of sedation for dental treatments. Patients are given a prescription for a sedative to be taken the night before or an hour before the treatment to create a relaxed, anxiety-free state.

Inhalation – Some patients may be sedated using nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, to achieve a relaxed sensation.


What drug is used for oral sedation?

For our oral sedation, we use a pill similar to Valium.


Is sedation dentistry the same as sleep dentistry?

You may have heard sedation dentistry called “sleep dentistry.” This is a misnomer. For our procedures patients are almost always awake, but they are sedated. We usually need patients to be totally relaxed and at ease, but still able to respond to requests. Few procedures call for general anesthesia, which would merit the “sleep” moniker.


What can I expect after my procedure using sedation? Can I drive myself home?

If you receive nitrous oxide, you’ll be able to drive yourself home, as the effects wear off almost instantly when the mask is removed. With oral conscious sedation, you’ll need someone to drive you home, as the effects will last from two to four hours after your appointment and you’re not supposed to drive a car for at least 12 hours.


Will I feel any pain during sedation dentistry?

There is a little misconception here. Modern anesthesia ensures you won’t feel a thing during your treatments with Dr. Gonzalez. Local anesthesia fully numbs the area he is working on. Sedation simply relaxes you and takes the edge off, helping you overcome your anxiety.


What are the side effects or risks of sedation dentistry?

Oral sedation has an amnesic effect. While technically a side effect, most patients see this as a benefit because they have no recollection of their visit to our office or of their procedure. Oral sedatives can also cause dry mouth, headaches, dizziness, and occasional nausea, but these pass quickly.

Nitrous oxide can create pressure changes in the middle ear and in the intestines. This can lead to short-term pain, but this is a very rare reaction. In the vast majority of cases, nitrous oxide is very safe and very effective for alleviating your anxiety.


Is sedation dentistry covered by insurance?

Sedation does add some cost to your appointment. Most insurance companies provide at least some coverage, but this can vary widely depending upon the company. If you wonder about coverage, it’s a good idea to call your carrier prior to your appointment. At Dr. Gonzalez’s, we work with your insurance company to get as much coverage as we can for you.


Schedule Your Consultation Today

Sedation dentistry is an excellent option to help you manage dental anxiety and receive the treatments you need. One of the types of sedation that Dr. Darren Gonzalez may recommend is oral conscious sedation. Oral sedation helps you feel relaxed so that you can receive your treatment in comfort and without any distress. Call us today at 707-542-1532 to learn more about oral conscious sedation in Santa Rosa, California, and make your appointment with our dentist.