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The differences between inhalation sedation and oral sedation

dentist treating female patient

Choosing the right sedation method to control your dental anxiety

Anxiety about going to the dentist affects more people than you think. For some, it’s caused by a previous bad experience. For others, it may be the feeling of not being in control. The problem is that dental conditions don’t go away on their own — they can get worse over time, causing pain, infection or bad breath.

The good news is that sedation is an available option to help you overcome anxiety and get the dental treatment you need. Two of the main options for sedation are inhalation and oral sedation, both of which are discussed below.

The Point Dental has state of the art facilities and all the help you need to move forward with your dental treatment needs.

Inhalation Sedation

woman receiving inhalation sedation at dentist clinic

Inhalation sedation is the constant supply of a relaxing agent using a nose mask. The technique has also been known as conscious sedation, happy gas or laughing gas. The actual name of the gas is nitrous oxide.

The advantage of inhalation sedation is that the flow of gas can be controlled according to the anxiety levels of the patient and the needs of the procedure itself. It results in a minimal level of sedation, meaning that you will be sleepy and sluggish but not lose consciousness. You will probably remember all the details of the dental procedure you went through.

Another advantage of inhalation sedation is that you can generally drive yourself home once the effects of the gas have worn off. It is also cheaper than oral sedation.

Oral Sedation

Oral sedation is taken in the form of a pill or liquid syrup. A dose may be required the night before and another one about an hour before the treatment. The most common drugs for oral sedation are diazepam (Valium) or triazolam (Halcion). Paediatric patients typically use the syrup form of oral sedation.

Oral sedation results in a minimal or moderate level of sedation. Depending on the actual dose taken, you may feel groggy to the point of falling asleep. However, you are easily awakened with a gentle shake. Oral sedation doses are calculated based on the age and weight of the patient.

Because oral sedation can be given as a syrup, it is a popular form of sleep dentistry for children. This avoids the need for a nose mask to be always in place. It is, therefore, easier to administer as a one-off dose.

However, for a moderate level of sedation, a patient’s vital signs must be monitored throughout the procedure as per the Dental Association Guidelines.

Success stories

dentist treating teeth of female patient

Several studies have been performed to test the success of sedation techniques for dentistry. In particular, some of these studies focus on children who are vulnerable to anxiety over dental treatments.

One study in the UK tested the response of children to oral sedation in over 500 patients in a period of more than two years. The study found that oral sedation was a safe and effective method of sedation for dental procedures. Its success helps to reduce the number of cases that would otherwise go to general anaesthesia.

Another study focused on the use of inhalation sedation for child patients. This time 472 patients were included, with 1317 dental procedures performed. Results of the study showed that inhalation sedation can be effectively used for providing high-quality dental health care. Similar studies show success rates of up to 93%.

Other options for sedation

In some cases, the extent of the dental treatment or the level of anxiety in the patient leads to the use of general anaesthesia. As in any form of surgery, a trained anaesthetist must administer the anaesthetic and monitor the vital signs of the patient during the procedure.

As such, general anaesthesia is more expensive than other forms of sedation and is also not as readily available in dental clinics. The Point Medical can provide general anaesthesia as an option for patients with high levels of anxiety.

Contact The Point Dental

The Point Dental has state of the art facilities and the ability to administer any form of sedation. Our dentists and staff are friendly and helpful. We walk you through the available options and help to put your mind at rest.

Reach out to The Point Dental to make a consultation appointment. We work with you to relieve your anxiety and keep your mouth healthy.