I have a problem. The numbing medications used by dentists simply do not work on me like they do on other people. Added to that, I have put off some pretty extensive dental work that needs to be done, and now the thought of having to go through that without adequate pain medication is literally keeping me up at night. Between my aching teeth and the idea of what I am going to have to go through to get them fixed, I am missing a lot of sleep.
I really think the only way I am going to be able to get this done is if I am out cold. Are there dentists out there that will knock you out to get extensive treatments done? I know oral surgeons can put you out for wisdom teeth removal and things like that, but I have never looked into what can be done if pain meds simply don’t work.
Lula in San Francisco
Yes, there definitely dentists out there that can help you. They are called sedation dentists, although you will sometimes hear them referred to as “sleep dentists” or their practices called “sleep dentistry”. This is not a technically correct term, as their patients are not actually sleeping.
Most of these dentists use what is called “conscious sedation”. This means that you are not fully unconscious for the procedure, though most people don’t remember anything about the treatment. Conscious sedation medication is usually administered through an oral pill, taken before the appointment. For this reason, if you are undergoing a procedure that involved oral sedation, you must have someone available to drive you to and from your appointment, and you probably will not be able to return to work that day.
We should mention, too, that sometimes the Novocain or other numbing medication is not as effective in patients who have a high level of anxiety. Many dentists have great success using nitrous oxide (also called NO or “laughing gas”) to help their patients relax, and then administering the numbing medication. The really great thing about that is that you don’t have to have someone drive you to and from the appointment. The effects of nitrous oxide wear off very quickly, and have no lingering effects that preclude driving or returning to work.
If you and your dentist talk through all the options and you are still not comfortable, then some dentists are trained to administer general anesthetic. Only you and your dentist can decide what level of intervention is necessary for you to get the treatment you need.
Good luck to you.