Dr. Charles Martin
Cosmetic, Implant & Sedation Dentistry
Creating Beautiful, Healthy Smiles for over 30 years
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Some surprising facts about dental sedation from Richmond Smile Center

July 15th, 2016

You have the option of dental sedation at Richmond Smile Center, in the form of a pill. Most people are familiar with the general concept of a valium-type medication to calm the nerves of an anxious patient, but here are some facts about dental sedation that you might find surprising.


Sedation is not a painkiller


Most oral sedatives used in dentistry are in family of prescription drugs called benzodiazepines. They decrease emotional anxiety by calming areas of the brain responsible for fear stimulus. Numbing agents such as Novocain block chemical receptors on nerve cells, preventing pain sensations in soft tissues of the body. So, oral sedation does not preclude the need for numbing. However, oral sedation helps a patient with a fear of needles feel much more relaxed about the procedure.


Dental sedation is not just for anxious patients


While the primary use of oral sedation in dentistry is to get the fearful patient into the dental chair for needed care, it can be beneficial in other circumstances. Sedation allows you to have a lengthy treatment or multiple procedures completed efficiently, in the convenience of one visit. From the patient?s perspective, time passes very quickly. Dental sedation helps to calm an over-active gag reflex. It may also be a good choice for the patient who has cognitive or physical limitations that make it difficult to sit still for dental care. In these situations, I work with your primary physician to be sure you are a good candidate for oral sedation.


More comfortable treatment and faster healing


Have you ever gone for a flu shot and the nurse asked you to relax your arm? When your muscle is tense, the needle does not slide in easily. The extra force needed to complete the injection results in tissue trauma that leaves you with a sore arm. The same is true of your mouth. If you are fearful of needles, you are more likely to tense your jaw muscles for the numbing injection. Oral sedation keeps you relaxed for numbing, and reduces post-procedure discomfort.


A simple fact of dentistry is that you have to open your mouth for treatment. For the duration of a cleaning and exam, that isn?t generally a problem. For a longer procedure, it may strain your jaw joint. While I take some extra steps during treatment to ease potential discomfort, oral sedation can be very helpful, as well. Even if you have no dental anxiety, your back, neck, or legs may feel weary after treatment, despite our comfortably-padded, ergonomic treatment chairs. Oral sedation helps to relax your body as well as your mind.


These factors add up to a more comfortable, positive dental experience, and they also foster fast healing following a procedure.


Give me a call if you would like to learn more about dental sedation. The Richmond Smile Center number is 804-417-7203.