Despite dramatic technical and biologic advances in modern day dental treatment, the thought of having a root canal can still create high levels of anxiety in the minds of some patients. The source of such anxiety is often related to a patient’s previous experience in a dental office. Some patients are very fearful of needles and/or do not respond adequately to local anesthetic (numbing) medications. Others may have a difficult-to-control gag reflex or may feel a sense of claustrophobia when dental instruments or materials are placed inside the mouth. 

How can we treat patients comfortably? With the use of sedation which creates a state of consciousness where a person is more relaxed and carefree than he/she was before. Since there are different levels of anxiety among dental patients, there are different types of sedation which can be tailored to meet an individual patient’s needs.

We are pleased to make available three different types of sedation to make your root canal experience comfortable and painless.

Nitrous Oxide (Inhalation) Sedation

The use of “laughing gas” involves placement of a small rubber cup over your nose through which a  mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen is inhaled. The desired effect occurs within a few minutes. You will feel more relaxed, and your level of anxiety will be reduced.

There are two benefits to nitrous oxide sedation:

1. The concentration of the gas will be adjusted to your body’s physiology 
2. The sedative effects will be reversed completely by the end of your appointment. This allows you to leave our office by yourself, and resume your routine activities immediately.

Oral Sedation (Sleep Dentistry)

One or two “sleeping pills” are taken an hour before your appointment. These tablets will make you feel drowsy, and like nitrous oxide sedation, they reduce  your level of anxiety. The effects of oral sedation often last well beyond the length of your appointment. For this reason, we will ask that you arrange for a responsible adult to drive you to and from our office.

Intravenous (I.V.) Sedation

Dr. Stevenson is one of very few root canal specialists in Northern California who is certified to administer I.V. sedation. This is our most profound sedation technique. An intravenous line is established in the back of the hand or the forearm. Through sterile tubing, a series of fluid medications are administered, and like nitrous oxide, the dosages will be determined by your body’s physiology. Within seconds, you will feel drowsy and less anxious. There are two added benefits derived from the I.V. medications:

1. The effectively control pain.
2. They alter your memory so you will have little or no recall of the root canal procedures. Like oral sedation, the effects of I.V. sedation last well beyond the length of your appointment, so a responsible adult must drive you home afterwards.

Who Will Provide The Sedation?

Both Dr. Cohen and Dr. Stevenson are trained to administer and monitor nitrous oxide sedation and oral sedation. Dr. Stevenson received additional anesthesia training during a residency at Los Angeles County- U.S.C. Medical Center, and he administers I.V. sedation in our practice. He is specially licensed by the Dental Board of California to provide this service. 

Is Sedation Safe?

We strictly follow the American Dental Association guidelines to minimize risk for our patients. 

These include:

  • Proper pretreatment evaluation
  • Proper monitoring equipment and documentation
  • Proper selection of medication and dosages
  • Emergency equipment, medications, and protocols
  • Appropriately trained and certified auxiliary staff

If you would like to consider one of these sedation options as a part of your root canal treatment, please feel free to contact our office. If you are interested in either oral sedation or I.V. sedation, our staff will schedule a consultation appointment for you first. This will allow us to properly prepare for a subsequent treatment appointment. We thank you for the opportunity to be of service.