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Comfort Dentistry

Improving Your Comfort in Natomas - Natomas Dentist: Haytham Abbas, DDS

A significant number of Americans do not visit the dentist for regular checkups because they are too fearful or suffer from dental anxiety.  Comfort-based dental services offers an excellent way to provide a safe, anxiety-free, dental experience to those who are afraid of the dentist.

These comfort aids are often mistakenly thought to induce sleep.  In fact, most allow the patient to stay awake during the procedure. Sleepiness is a side effect of some medications, but nitrous oxide and oral conscious sedation only work to calm anxiety throughout the dental visit.

Comfort-based dental services are popular because most can be taken by mouth, meaning no injections, no anxiety, and no discomfort. Some work so effectively that even the smells and details of the procedure cannot be recalled afterwards.

Whatever the form of comfort aid, it is essential to be accompanied by a caregiver. 

Here are some advantages associated with comfort-based dental services:

  • Anxiety is alleviated.
  • Few side effects.
  • More can be accomplished during each visit.
  • No needles.
  • No discomfort.
  • Perfectly safe.
  • Procedures seem to take less time.

What kinds of sedatives are available?

The most popular types of dental comfort aids are nitrous oxide and oral conscious sedation.  Before administering any comfort aid, the dentist must analyze the full medical history of the patient, taking note of any current medications.

Here is an overview of some of the comfort-based dental services we provide:

Nitrous Oxide

Nitrous oxide, or “laughing gas,” is used as the most frequent comfort aid.  It is delivered through a nose hood, and is administered throughout the entire procedure.  Nitrous oxide elevates the general mood and can evoke a sense of well-being.  Most importantly, it relieves anxiety during the procedure.  In addition, some tingling and numbness may be felt. There are few side effects associated with nitrous oxide, and it has been safely used in dentistry for many years.

Oral Conscious Sedation

Oral conscious sedation is an excellent choice for people who fear needles.  Oral medication is provided prior to treatment in order to induce a stronger relaxation than that which nitrous can provide. Though oral sedatives do not cause sleep, they usually dull the senses.  This means that most patients cannot remember the pain, smells or noises associated with the procedure.  Usually, a dose of medication is taken prior to the appointment, and the patient will have to be driven to and from their appointment.


What types of drugs are used in oral conscious sedation?

Most of the drugs used in oral conscious sedation are classified as benzodiazepines.  Benzodiazepines reduce anxiety and muscle spasms, which makes them perfect for enhancing your comfort when visiting the dentist.  Each medication has a different half-life, meaning that the effects last for varying amounts of time.  The estimated length of the procedure determines which type of drug is going to be most effective.

Here are some of the most common drugs used in oral conscious sedation:

Valium® – This sedative has amnesic properties and a long half-life. It is usually used for time-consuming, complex procedures.

Halcion® – Usually used to treat insomnia, Halcion is an effective sedative with amnesic properties.  A short half-life makes this sedative useful for shorter procedures.

Ativan® – This sedative is best known for reducing anxiety.  It has amnesic properties and a medium half-life.  Ativan is typically used for treatments shorter than two hours.

Versed® – This sedative has the shortest half-life and is therefore less commonly used.  It alleviates anxiety in much the same way as nitrous oxide, and is used for visits that will take less than 30 minutes.


If you have questions or concerns about sedation dentistry, please contact us at our Natomas dental practice today! 


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