10 Jun 2019
June 10, 2019

Is Dental Anesthesia Safe?

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Is Dental Anesthesia Safe?

 Girl sedated at dentist office.

The fear of dentists is extremely common, and some people’s fear is deep enough to cause them to postpone even critical dental care. Even if you are not particularly afraid of the dentist, you might worry about pain. Fortunately, modern dental anesthesia can ensure a virtually pain-free experience, while sedation options can help reduce even a severe fear. Yet many people are reluctant to take advantage of dental anesthesia due to concerns about safety. Here is what you should know.

Local Anesthesia

Local anesthesia is used for all dental procedures that could cause pain or discomfort. Novocain was once the drug of choice, but it did have some unpleasant side effects and carried a risk of allergic reactions. Today, Lidocaine and similar medications are used instead. They work better and last longer, have far less side effects, and carry a much lower risk of allergic reactions.

If you have ever experienced side effects or an allergy to a specific numbing medication, let us know right away, as we have a few different medications we can use. For the vast majority of people, though, modern numbing medications are safe and effective.

Please note that numbing medications will make you feel odd, regardless of which one we select. A block injection numbs an entire portion of the mouth, while an infiltration numbs a smaller area close to the injection site. Either way, we will swab the area with a numbing gel before giving you the injection. Your mouth will feel somewhat heavy and difficult to use for a few hours, and you might have trouble eating, drinking through a straw, or speaking. These effects are entirely normal and are not a sign that anything has gone wrong. The medication will wear off within several hours.

Nitrous Oxide

If you need or want sedation, nitrous oxide is the mildest choice and is considered the safest. It consists of a mix of nitrogen and oxygen, the largest components in regular air, inhaled through a mask over your nose. We will control the precise blend to induce relaxation without making you feel “out of control.” You might feel a bit of heaviness in your arms and legs, and you might become a bit giggly. If you feel uncomfortable at any point, all you need to do is remove the mask. The effects wear off quite quickly, and you will be able to safely drive home.

Oral Sedation

Although it is not technically a form of anesthesia, oral sedation can induce similar effects. You will take a pill such as Valium or Halcion before your appointment according to our directions. You will feel mildly or moderately sedated, and you might doze off during your procedure, but you will not be unconscious at any point. 

Oral sedation is generally considered safe, but we will take your full health history before we prescribe it. Depending on the medications and supplements you currently take, as well as any underlying health conditions you have, one medication may be more appropriate for you than another.

Please note that you will feel groggy and slightly out of it for the rest of the day. You must bring someone to drive you home, and you should plan to relax at home until the next morning.

IV Sedation

IV sedation is sometimes referred to as “twilight sleep.” You will not be unconscious, but you will likely sleep through the procedure. It is normal to feel loopy and a bit out of it for the rest of the night, so you need to not only have someone drive you home, but also arrange for that person to stay with you overnight. 

IV sedation is the deepest form of dental anesthesia outside of hospital-administered general anesthesia. It is generally considered safe, but it may not be appropriate for patients with certain underlying medical conditions. We will perform a full health history and gather a complete list of all medications and supplements you take, and then determine whether this is the right option for you.

Ready to Get Started?

If you are ready to take the first steps toward improving your dental health, we invite you to contact Family Dental Care of Bellevue today at 425-643-5778 to make an appointment for your initial consultation.

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