Pain management is an important part of health care these days, especially at the Dentist’s office. 

One of the reason people agonize about dental visits is pain. Whether it is a routine cleaning, a planned procedure or more intensive dental work, we associate the dentist’s office with discomfort. pain management

Most well trained, experienced dentist’s focus their time and energy to educate their patients about procedures and options. While there are often a small set of options to take care of your teeth, you also have options for pain management both during an following a procedure. 

Topical anesthetics

Gel applied with a swab, used to numb the area in the mouth or gums where the dental work will be done. This if often used prior to an injection with a local anesthetic, such as Lidocaine.

Laser drills

Some dentists are now using lasers to remove decay within a tooth and prepare the surrounding enamel for placement of the filling. Lasers may cause less pain in some instances and result in a reduced need for anesthesia.

Electronically delivered anesthesia

Also known as TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) In this technique, electricity is passed into the brain, which causes relaxation. This is not like electrocution, but it does involve using electricity to control pain response.

Nitrous oxide

(also called laughing gas). This option is very popular and the most common form of sedation used in the dental office. Effects wear off quickly after the gas is turned off. This is the only form of sedation under which patients can drive after the procedure and can eat food within a 12-hour period of the procedure. With IV, oral and general anesthesia, the patient cannot drive following the procedure or eat after midnight the night before the procedure.

Intravenous sedation

This form of pain and anxiety control involves injecting a sedative into a vein of a patient’s arm or hand. This approach is usually reserved for patients undergoing extensive dental procedures or for the extremely anxious patient.

Oral sedation

 An oral medication, such as Halcion, works on the central nervous system to help patients relax. The effects take time to set in and may last for hours after a procedure.

General anesthesia

With this technique, the patient is “put to sleep” for the duration of the procedure. Patients requiring general anesthesia can be treated in the dentist’s office, but more likely are treated in a hospital setting. This is because this type of anesthesia has risks, which include a sudden drop in blood pressure and irregular heartbeats, so the patient needs to be closely monitored. This option is only used by dentists certified to offer this option.

Be sure to ask your provider what your options are for pain management before you make the appointment for care.