Sedation Dentistry in Bellingham, WA

Dental anxiety is real, and you’re not alone. Plenty of patients feel nervous about getting the care they need. That’s why we offer a variety of sedation options to keep your experience soothing, painless, and stress-free.

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Sedation Dentistry in Bellingham

What Can Sedation Help With?

Dental sedation can help patients feel less anxious and more comfortable during dental treatment. Patients can take medication in the form of a gas or pill, which relaxes them, relieves negative emotions, and improves comfort and cooperation. 

Sedation can help a variety of things like sensitive gag reflexes, pain, anxiety, restlessness, sensitivity, and special needs. For example, some patients may have limited jaw mobility, so keeping their mouth pried open during a long appointment may cause them significant discomfort. 

Sedation makes this position more comfortable, suppresses the patient’s gag reflex, and makes them feel calm. If you suffer from dental anxiety or have dealt with past trauma related to dentistry, you may even avoid dental appointments. 

Sedation enables patients like this to get the treatment they need without suffering. They don’t even have to remember the experience afterward! Contact us at The Local Dentist to schedule a consultation.

Bellingham Sedation Dentistry

Did you know…

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Not all dental sedation is general anesthesia. There are three other types of sedation commonly used in dental practices.

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Minimally Inhaled Sedation

This sedative is the inhalation of nitrous oxide (laughing gas) through the nose after we place a nasal mask around your face. You will begin to feel the effects within just a few minutes. These effects usually include feelings of calmness, giddiness, and euphoria. 

During your treatment, you will remain conscious but in an altered state. Instead of feeling fear, you will feel calm. Instead of feeling stressed and upset, patients feel happy. 

While you will be aware of your surrounding during the appointment and fully able to respond to your dentist, most patients do not remember anything after the appointment. Once we remove the gas mask, you will return to normal in just a few minutes without any lingering effects.

Oral Conscious Sedation

Benzodiazepine medication is frequently used in oral conscious sedation. This is a pill that is formulated to treat anxiety. Patients with more severe anxiety or special needs may want a more intense sedative like this, which is taken about an hour before the start of your appointment. 

Patients need to get a ride to the office since they can’t drive under the influence of this medication. The effects will start to hit you once your appointment starts. Patients tend to feel drowsy during their treatment and may even fall asleep sometimes, but we can easily wake them up. 

As the name suggests, patients are awake and aware of their surroundings but even less likely to remember anything, thanks to the amnesiac effects of the medication. 

Once your appointment is over, the drug will stay in your system and continue to cause impairment and drowsiness, so you will not be able to drive yourself home or engage in certain activities for the next 24 hours.

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The Benefits of Proper Sedation

Effective Relief of Anxiety

Patients may have dental anxiety because they had a bad childhood experience, they’re claustrophobic or scared of feeling pain. Whatever it is, it’s a significant barrier to getting people the treatment they need. Sedation makes these patients feel comfortable, safe, and pain-free, so they don’t avoid necessary dental work.

Improved Comfort

Sedation can help patients who struggle to get numb from local anesthesia or patients with low pain tolerance to receiving pain-free treatment by eliminating pain sensation and sensitivity. This is especially important for invasive procedures like oral surgery.

Anterograde Amnesia

Fortunately, for patients with anxiety, one of the side effects of sedation is anterograde amnesia. This temporarily prevents patients from forming new memories while they are sedated. Once their appointment has ended, they won’t have any recollection of the tools used or what was going on, and this can help reduce future anxiety.

The Sedation Treatment Process

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Dr. Chaz will review your medical history to determine if sedation is safe for you and what type of sedation is most suitable for your needs.

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Different sedatives require different preparation instructions. Before receiving laughing gas, patients should not eat for 2 hours beforehand. Before receiving oral conscious sedation, patients need to fast for 6 hours and arrange transportation to and from the office. Someone will also need to monitor them for the rest of the day.

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Administration of Sedative

Laughing gas is inhaled through a gas mask, and oral conscious sedation is taken orally in pill form.

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Once you have been sedated, we will continue with your treatment. Contrary to popular belief, sedation is not only for invasive procedures like oral surgery. You can be sedated during routine appointments like cleanings if this relieves your anxiety or discomfort.

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We might need to monitor you for a short while after your treatment if you received an intense sedative. Dr. Vittiow will provide you with instructions on what you should avoid or are free to do for the rest of the day.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Again, recovery from sedation dentistry varies from one sedation technique to another. For instance, laughing gas sedation kicks in in minutes but its effects disappear in as little as five minutes. 

Oral conscious sedation, on the other hand, is a moderate sedation technique. The effects will kick in thirty minutes to an hour after the patient ingest the sedative in pill or syrup form. The effects of oral conscious sedation last anywhere from three to eight hours. The recovery period depends on the sedative used and the patient's metabolism.

Intravenous sedation is a strong sedation for lengthy, complicated procedures. The effects of this sedation kick in after about 20 minutes. Complete recovery takes about two to twenty-four hours to wear off, depending on the dosage and your metabolism.

Sedation experiences depend on the sedation technique in question. For example, during nitrous oxide sedation, the dentist will first look through your medical history and information to determine your suitability for the procedure. If suitable, the dentist will cover your mouth and nose with a face mask connected to a nitrous oxide canister. The dentists turn on the gas supply and you inhale nitrous oxide. After inhaling, you’ll start to feel a bit light-headed, giggly, and tingly all over. This will calm you down and the dentists proceed with treatment.

With oral conscious sedation, the dentist gives you a pill to swallow thirty minutes before the procedure. The sedation effect kicks in after these thirty minutes and you’ll start feeling drowsy and less anxious. Intravenous sedation, on the other hand, involves inserting an intravenous drip into a vein in your forearm or hand. This drip steadily supplies sedatives directly to your bloodstream. You’ll feel light-headed and relaxed throughout the treatment, but won’t go unconscious.

Dental sedation is only safe if administered by a qualified dental practitioner or a licensed anesthesiologist. For starters, all sedatives used during dental sedation are completely non-toxic and don’t produce any undesired effects on the body.  What’s more, the dentist will be monitoring your vitals throughout the procedure for abnormal behavior, and stop the sedation process, if any.

It’s worth noting that there are different types of sedation techniques from light to deep sedation or general anesthesia. Dentists decide the best sedation technique for your condition based on the type of treatment and the complexity of the procedure. A licensed dentist will recommend the appropriate sedation technique and administer the proper dosage as prescribed in the treatment plan.

Sedation dentistry is also safe for kids and the elderly. Dentists typically recommend nitrous oxide (laughing gas) for very young and old patients. Laughing gas inhalation is a mild, non-invasive sedation ideal for toddlers and old folks, whose bodies may be overwhelmed by stronger forms of sedation.

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