Are you one of the 30 million Americans who put off going to the dentist because of dental anxiety or fear? Roughly 10% of people here in The United States let their dental health suffer because they’ve either had a bad experience at the dentist or have heard horror stories from family and friends. But you don’t have to let fear ruin your smile. Sedation dentistry (aka sleep dentistry) is an effective way to reduce—in some cases even eliminate—dental anxiety and get much-needed dental procedures done without the fear.

Dentist treating a patient

The Benefits of Sedation Dentistry

Dr. Guillen is a Westwood family dentist who prides himself on placing your needs first. And, while in most cases that means helping you choose the best procedures, techniques, and technologies, sometimes it simply means helping you get through the door. That’s why his office (conveniently located in Westwood near UCLA) provides a full spectrum of sleep or sedation dentistry options.

Patients who opt for sedation dentistry at our Westwood office enjoy benefits including:

  • Reduced Anxiety—Whether they’ve had bad experiences at other Westwood dentist offices or simply don’t like the idea of going to the dentist, overcoming that anxiety is a key to improving their oral health.
  • Safety—Because sedation dentistry rarely involves putting the patients completely “to sleep” and because medical science has advanced tremendously in the last decade, sedation dentistry is generally safe for most patients—including children. (Exceptions include patients with certain pre-existing health conditions.)
  • Minimal Side Effects—Generally the only side effect most patients feel after leaving Dr. Guillen’s Westwood dental studio is drowsiness. Some people may experience dry mouth, headaches, and dizziness, but generally even these symptoms disappear within a few minutes after the procedure.
  • More Work, Fewer Visits—Sedation allows Dr. Guillen to get more dental work accomplished in a shorter amount of time—meaning you may spend less time in the office altogether.
  • Needles aren’t Necessary—If you have a fear of needles, relax. Sedation dentistry can be accomplished using oral sedatives so there’s no need for needles.
  • Affordable—If the cost of sedation dentistry at our Westwood dental studio gives you pause, give us a call. Procedures are generally more affordable than you may think. Your dental insurance may even cover all or a portion of the cost.
  • No Pain—When added to traditional pain prevention methods like Nitrous Oxide and Novocain, sedation dentistry can completely eliminate pain.

Sedation Dentistry Lets You Face Your Fear

For some patients it’s not the pain that’s keeping them from the dentist—it’s a phobia. For those patients certain medicines can be administered that have an amnestic effect. That means that the details of their procedures (including sounds and smells) are muted and may not be remembered at all after the fact. This can be a tremendous help for individuals who know they need dental work but can’t wrap their minds around sitting in the chair.

With the variety of pharmaceutical sedatives available, Dr. Guillen can find the right medication for you. Whether that means using an old standby like Nitrous Oxide or a more modern oral tablet, we can help you keep your smile beautiful, repair damage from those neglected visits, or even restore your smile completely.

The Right Medicine for You

Many people have heard of sedation dentistry but they really don’t know what it is. The name implies that patients are put “to sleep” during procedures. That’s not always the case (though it is an option for some patients who need extensive procedures). In fact, most of the pharmaceutical sedatives Dr. Guillen uses at his Westwood dental studio allow patients to remain awake, alert, and in complete control. The medications are used simply to reduce the emotional stress and anxiety related to visiting the dentist.

What Types of Sedation/Sedatives are Available?

Nitrous Oxide

Nitrous oxide, commonly called “laughing gas,” is a mild sedative that has been used for decades. This gas is administered through a hose as the patient breathes through their nose. Nitrous oxide is often used to elevate a person’s general mood and can create a calming sense of well-being. It also has the added bonus of reducing pain. Generally the effects of Nitrous Oxide wear off within minutes of patients breathing fresh air so they can go about the rest of their day unimpeded.

Oral Conscious Sedation

Oral conscious sedation is perhaps the “newest” method of sedation dentistry and delivers the best of both worlds: the sedative is powerful and often completely eliminates anxiety, plus the aftereffects are generally mild. And there are no needles! Often with oral conscious sedation Dr. Guillen will prescribe a dose to be delivered before the patient arrives, which makes a designated driver necessary.

The drugs used for Oral Conscious Sedation are most often benzodiazepines. These drugs reduce anxiety and muscle control and are used in medical practices to treat insomnia and seizures. Some of the common drugs we use within this class include:

  • Valium®
  • Halcion®
  • Ativan®
  • Versed®

Each drug has a specific “half-life” (the amount of time for which it is effective) and the expected length of the procedure will help Dr. Guillen make suggestions for which medication suits your case the best.