Oral sedation dentistry is a medical procedure involving the administration of oral sedative drugs, generally to facilitate a dental procedure and reduce patients fear and anxiety related to the experience. Oral sedation is one of the available methods of conscious sedation dentistry, along with inhalation sedation (nitrous oxide) and conscious intravenous sedation.
Dental patients with generalized anxiety, belone phobia (fear of needles and sharp instruments), prior dental trauma, or generalized fear of the dentist can take oral medication in order to reduce their anxieties. A variety of single and incremental dose protocols are used to medicate the patient as early as the day before treatment. Medication additionally helps reduce memory or the sights and smells of the dental office to avoid recall of any trauma. The sedative effect allows more dentistry to be completed in fewer appointments as well as allowing complex procedures to be performed in less time.
Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, is the most frequently used method for easing mild to moderate anxiety. Administered through a small mask that fits over your nose, it is an effective way to calm anxiety, raise your pain threshold, and even make time seem like it's passing quicker than usual. As the gas begins to work, you will become calm, although you will still be awake and able to talk with the dentist.
At the end of your appointment, you'll resume breathing regular oxygen, and all the effects of nitrous oxide will disappear, so you can resume your normal activities immediately.