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If you avoid the dentist because of anxiety or fear, that's natural but not healthy. Now, with advances in sedation dentistry, you no longer have to fear dental pain or discomfort. We have several options to help patients cope with dental fears.

Mildly anxious? Nitrous Oxide, also known as laughing gas, is administered with a little hood over your nose before and during the dental procedure. The effect is very mild and can make you feel very "floaty." The concentration of the nitrous oxide is very closely monitored and is calibrated differently for each patient. The benefit of using nitrous oxide is that it is fully reversible – you breathe 100 percent oxygen for approximately five minutes and there is no remaining effect of the nitrous oxide. You can drive yourself home.

More anxious? We also offer an enteral conscious sedation, meaning you ingest the sedative agent. For adults and some teens, we use Halcion (triazolam). Halcion is in the same family as Valium, but does not stay in your system as long as Valium. It allows for a very relaxed state during dental treatment. Sometimes we will use nitrous oxide along with the Halcion. Halcion does have a side-effect of creating amnesia while in your system: You can recall that you had dental work completed, but have no memory of the work actually being done. Again, the patient is very closely monitored during procedures where sedation is used. Patients cannot drive following use of Halcion; you must arrange transportation from the office. supervision. The patient must have someone present to act in their behalf the entire time that treatment is being performed.

For children. Versed (midazolam), a liquid medication, is routinely used for sedating children. Versed is a very fast-acting sedative agent. It takes approximately 15 minutes to be at full-effect, and the sedative effects only last about 45-minutes. We may at times use nitrous oxide in combination with Versed, and monitor the patient closely. This medication is dispensed in the office, based on the patient's weight, age, and level of cooperativeness. The goal with children is to have a positive experience, even if extensive dental treatment is performed.

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