Sedation Dentistry – Modesto


Dr. Openshaw is certified in IV sedation for dentistry. He is also certified and experienced in oral conscious sedation and nitrous oxide sedation. As one of the few IV sedation dentists in Modesto, he is able to offer the highest level of care during your stay in the office. If your fear of visiting the dentist is keeping you from getting the treatment you need, then a sedation dentist like Dr. Openshaw in Modesto, CA, can help you manage your anxiety. Sedation dentistry is also a good option for patients who have a low pain tolerance. A “sleep dentist” has special training to provide an additional level of service for patients who want to avoid emotional turmoil or discomfort during dental procedures. 

Some patients need a small dose of medication to calm their nerves even before a basic cleaning. Others benefit most from deep sedation for oral surgery and other extensive procedures. Wanting customized treatment to help you get through your dental visit is nothing to be embarrassed about. Knowing what you need to be comfortable and finding a sedation dentist to help you meet your treatment goals is a smart move. 

What Does a Sedation Dentist Offer?

Dr. Openshaw uses several possible levels or types of sedation during dental treatment. These include: 

IV Sedation – Dr. Openshaw is one of the few dentists in Modesto who is formally certified in IV sedation. He is able to use his certification to completely sedate patients for procedures that would otherwise be potentially anxiety-inducing situations. If you feel anxious thinking about a significant upcoming dental procedure, then IV sedation could be exactly what you need.

Nitrous Oxide – This is the most common form of light sedation. It is offered at most dental offices and can be used for a wide variety of procedures. Sometimes called laughing gas, nitrous oxide is generally administered prior to the local injection of anesthetic, which is especially helpful for patients who don’t like needles. Nitrous oxide provides a feeling of relaxation, making it easier to sit still during a long procedure. Patients remain awake and aware during treatment and can respond to instructions. N2O wears off very quickly, making it suitable for patients who will be driving themselves home after treatment. 

Nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, is most often used for patients who are mildly or moderately anxious or nervous. It eases their fears so that they can relax and receive treatment comfortably and safely. Nitrous oxide is administered by placing a small mask over the patient’s nose. As the gas begins to work, the patient becomes calm, although he or she is still awake and can talk. When the gas is turned off, the effects of sedation wears off almost immediately.

Oral Conscious Sedation – There are quite a few different oral medications that can ease the discomfort of dental procedures. These include benzodiazepine drugs such as Valium, Xanax, and Halcion. These pills cause drowsiness, reduce pain and decrease anxiety. Sometimes, a sedation dentist will use anti-histamines to make patients drowsy. These meds often cause dry mouth, which is actually a desirable side-effect during certain procedures when keeping the treatment area free of saliva is essential for success. Oral sedatives should only be prescribed for patients who aren’t at risk of complications and side-effects from medical conditions or interactions with other drugs. 

Patients who are more anxious may need an oral medication that is stronger than nitrous oxide. With oral sedation, the patient may be sleepy but can be aroused if necessary and can respond to simple commands. Minor side effects such as nausea or vomiting can occur with some medications. Before a visit in which a patient is to receive oral sedation, he/she should receive instructions about eating and drinking, what to expect and what to watch for after treatment. You will need assistance to get home after sedation. Patients may need to stay for a short observation after dental treatment has been completed.

A sedation dentist knows:

  • The right drug to administer based on medical history and desired level of sedation
  • Proper dosage based on factors like body weight and length of procedure
  • When patients should take a specific medication so it “kicks in” at the right time
  • What potentially harmful interactions to watch out for

This approach provides a very powerful level of sedation for patients who need to feel completely comfortable and relaxed during a procedure. Dentists and staff members who have not undergone specialized training are not authorized to offer this form of sedation. That”s because patients must have their breathing and other vitals monitored during treatment. If you choose sedation, you will definitely need someone to drive you home afterward. 

Who Should See a Sedation Dentist?

The best candidates for sedation during dental procedures are:

  • Patients who have a fear of going to the dentist that cannot be adequately addressed with relaxation techniques
  • Those with a strong gag reflex that interferes with treatment
  • Individuals who have back or neck pain that keeps them from lying back comfortably in the dental chair
  • Patients who don’t respond fully to local anesthetics
  • Those who need a lengthy procedure or who want to combine multiple procedures into a single visit

Patients who are not suitable candidates are those with allergies to the drugs used in sedation dentistry. Some patients also dislike the feeling of wooziness or nausea that can occur when the pain or anxiety medications wear off. These patients may be better candidates for local anesthetic alone. 

For more information about sedation dentistry in Modesto, CA, please feel free to call our office or email us.