Dr. Vlahos and his team of dental professionals in St. Catharines offer different types of sedation to help those patients who are apprehensive or anxious about dental treatment. We understand that dental treatment can be a challenge for some individuals. Often, they will avoid coming to the dentist until it is necessary. Unfortunately, when a patient is in extreme pain, they often are emotionally and psychologically under high stress. This is not a great experience for these patients. They are difficult to manage and frequently unable to get frozen adequately to allow for timely treatment. The key is to avoid this situation entirely. Call our office at 905-937-4673 as soon as symptoms arise even if you are not sure if it is a dental problem. Timely management of a developing tooth problem with the use of sedation will allow the patient to be treated promptly and efficiently. This will avoid those extreme situations that patients dread.
Dr. Vlahos has certification for Oral Moderate Sedation from the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario. Our office offers 2 types of sedation that also can be combined. They both have their advantages and disadvantages but offer hope for those patients who struggle with dental treatment.
Nitrous Oxide Sedation (Laughing Gas)
Nitrous oxide or laughing gas has been used in dentistry for a very long time. It is safe and effective. Nitrous oxide is an inhalational anesthetic that is a colourless and odorless gas (although the mask used sometimes has a pleasant fragrance added to it). As you breathe in the gas, it rapidly enters your blood stream. It gives the patient a relaxed and pleasant feeling. It does act as a mild pain reliever as well. Nitrous oxide administration can be delivered at varying concentrations. Often, Dr. Vlahos will start the patient at a low level but can increase or decrease the level of sedation, so the patient is comfortable and relaxed. The gas is only given for the duration of the procedure and once the treatment is done, the gas is flushed out of your body and you can return to normal. The sedative effect is eliminated, and your can go about as you normally would. Nitrous oxide can also help reduce gagging in those patients that easily gag. It is a safe and effective and does not have any negative effects on any other parts of your body. Some disadvantages of nitrous oxide are that for a few patients, it may not produce the level of sedation they need. Also, for those patients who are mouth breathers or cannot handle a mask on the nose, it may not be appropriate for them. Occasionally, it can bring some nausea to the patient so often nitrous oxide needs to be administered on an empty stomach.
A sedative medication in pill form can be given to a patient one hour prior to their dental appointment. Dr. Vlahos uses Triazolam which is a benzodiazepine and has a short half life of about 4 hours (that is, it wears off within a reasonable time; other pill sedatives usually last much longer). Once the sedative takes effect, the patient will feel relaxed and comfortable. Often, they will fall asleep in the dental chair but can awaken easily and breathe fully on their own. Oral sedation can be effective, but patients must be accompanied both to and from the office. They cannot drive or go to work. Sometimes, the sedative effect can be variable because the pill must be absorbed through the stomach. Afterwards, they need to be accompanied home and cannot be left alone while sedated. Triazolam sedation also has a slight amnestic effect meaning you may have little memory of the procedure done which for some patients is beneficial. Ask Dr. Vlahos if Triazolam sedation is right for you.
Oral Sedation and Triazolam
Dr. Vlahos can combine both sedation modalities to produce a more profound sedation for those patients who require a deeper sedation. While the sedation can be deeper, it does require a stricter regimen both prior, during and after your appointment. A patient must abstain from any alcohol, recreational drugs and certain prescription drugs 24 hours prior to your appointment. No food or drink at least 2 hours before the appointment. You cannot drive or work the day of the appointment. You must be accompanied to and from the office. You will have blood pressure and pulse oximeter monitors during your appointment. Afterwards, you will need to be monitored at home. No alcohol is allowed 24 hours post appointment as well. If there is any concern over oral and nitrous sedation at all, please check with your family doctor to see if this right for you.
Sedation dentistry can be a wonderful experience for those patients who suffer debilitating fear of dental treatment. Please feel free to contact Dr. Vlahos to set up an appointment for a free consultation to discuss if sedation dentistry is right for you.