Suffering with a toothache or other symptoms of oral health problems can be painful, but some people avoid seeing a dentist to treat a problem because they're worried about the pain involved in treatments.
Associations of pain with dentistry are grounded in the past and should no longer be a concern today, thanks to advances in treatment techniques and anaesthesia.
All the same, we know that many people do feel anxiety or fear about visiting the dental clinic. That's why our dentists in Bracken Ridge offer a choice of sedation options to help you relax and get the pain-free dental care you need.
Who can have dental sedation?
We use local anaesthetic as standard if any procedure is likely to cause pain, but other sedatives are available on request. These may be offered to adult patients if:
- you have dental anxiety or other anxiety related to some aspect of your visit (such as a fear of needles, blood or invasion of personal space)
- you have sensitive teeth and gums
- you have a low pain threshold or resistance to anaesthesia and need extra pain relief
- you need to reduce a gag reflex
- you're having a more complex or lengthy treatment
Some types of sedation, such as nitrous oxide, are also safe for children who may need some help to calm down or cooperate during their dental visit.
Not everyone is a candidate for sedation. Our dentists will need to ask about your medical history and any medications you may be taking so we can determine what approach is safe for you.
Types of anaesthesia and sedation
Our dentists can offer a combination of anaesthetic and sedatives to help relieve pain and anxiety as needed. We'll explain all of your options and any side effects or other information you need to know so you can make informed decisions about what's best for you.
Local anaesthetic is administered by injection into the part of the mouth being treated. It numbs the mouth by blocking pain responses from nerves, making dental procedures painless. You may sometimes feel soreness afterwards, which can be relieved by taking over-the-counter pain medication or other remedies.
We recommend local anaesthesia for any procedure that involves a risk of pain or discomfort. If you're worried about the pain or experience of the needle, we use topical anaesthetic gel to numb the injection itself, or we can discuss alternative pain relief if needed.
Nitrous oxide sedation (laughing gas)
If you need a little extra help to relax or extra pain relief, our dentists can provide nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas or happy gas. A safe combination of nitrous oxide and oxygen is inhaled through a small mask that fits over your nose and our dentists will closely monitor your responses.
You will be awake and able to respond to your dentist while under sedation. Nitrous oxide is fast acting and the effects normally wear off very soon afterwards, so you will be able to drive home and go about your day as normal, unlike some other sedatives.
Oral sedation (Temazepam)
If you require a stronger sedative, we may discuss oral sedation using a self-administered medication such as Temazepam, related to Valium. This should be taken at our dental clinic around 1 hour before your appointment begins, so you won't risk driving under the influence.
You may stay awake or drift in and out of sleep while under sedation, but you will still be able to respond to your dentist's instructions and answer their questions. As the sedative will stay in your system for several hours, someone will need to accompany you and take you home after your appointment.
For longer or more complex treatments or the most severe cases of anxiety, you may be put to sleep during your procedure using general anaesthetic. This is a combination of inhalation and intravenous (IV) injection, which must be administered by a qualified anaesthesiologist.
General anaesthesia has a longer recovery time than other types of sedation. We advise that you take it easy and don't drive or use heavy machinery for up to 48 hours after your treatment.
Is dental sedation safe?
Any procedure involves risks, and we'll make sure you know the possible complications or side effects of the sedation options you're considering. We only use sedatives that have been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) for safe use in Australia.
Our dentists in Bracken Ridge are trained and experienced in providing nitrous oxide and oral sedatives. We will administer the appropriate level of sedative, monitor your condition closely throughout your treatment and ask you how you're feeling at regular intervals.
You may feel lightheaded or experience other symptoms such as tingling, numbness or nausea, depending on the type of sedation being administered, but these effects are usually only temporary.
Other ways to reduce pain and anxiety
Sedation is not always necessary and can be considered a last resort if other methods of managing dental anxiety are not successful. Depending on your situation, these other approaches could include:
- Relaxation exercises – your dentist or therapist may recommend techniques such as deep breathing, guided imagery, cognitive behaviour therapy or progressive muscle relaxation to help calm anxiety without the need for sedatives
- Distractions – listening to music or watching TV with headphones in the dental surgery to help take your mind off what your dentist is doing
- Desensitisation – visiting the dental clinic, learning about the equipment or watching videos of dental procedures to make dentistry more familiar and avoid surprises
- Therapy – talking to a professional for help managing dental anxiety or any underlying concerns
At Bracken Ridge Dental, we use the latest dental technology to minimise pain and discomfort and improve the overall patient experience.
Painless dentistry in Bracken Ridge
If you need to see a dentist in Brisbane, talk to our team at Bracken Ridge Dental to find out how we can prevent pain and discomfort during your routine check-ups and treatments.