sedation dentistry Alexandria

Sedation in Old Town, Alexandria

Dental anxiety is real, and a lot more common than you may think. If you experience dental anxiety or any dental phobias, you are not alone. A large number of people feel nervous about getting the care they need, for a variety of very valid reasons. We are here for you and have a lot of experience caring for patients who feel nervous or who have stayed away from the dentist for a long time, whatever the reason. We are passionate about helping you feel safe and comfortable in getting your work completed, and offer a variety of sedation options to keep your experience  as soothing, painless, and stress-free as possible. You are just a phone call away from easing your anxiety towards the process. 

dental sedation Alexandria

Why should I choose sedation?

No one deserves to struggle with stress or anxiety during dental treatment. Sedation options are an effective way to receive the dental care you need without the worry, fears, or apprehension that may come with visiting the dentist’s office, especially if it has been a long time since your last visit, or if you have unfortunately had a negative dental experience sometime in your past. We can help. We have a very soothing environment, a highly trained team, various sedation options and other stress-relieving elements, as well as a therapy dog that can support you during your treatment. All it takes to get started is a simple conversation with Dr. Ahmed and Dr. Barra to see what option works best for you. We are here to support you, and we maintain a strictly judgement-free zone. There is no need to be ashamed of your condition, how long it has been since your last visit, or any other reason. Getting the work you need can be a lot easier than you may think. 

Sedation is also a very important and useful option for patients with special needs, including nonverbal children and adults, autistic children and adults, patients with Down Syndrome, seizure disorders, mental illness, Parkinson's disease, as well as a variety of other cognitive and/or physical disabilities. Unfortunately, the special needs community is traditionally underserved and neglected due to their difficulty in tolerating routine dental care, as well as inconsistent homecare, leaving dentists uncertain how to best care for them. Additionally, oftentimes, caregivers are at a loss on how to get these patients the care they need. We can help. We work with top-notch anesthesiologists to safely and comfortably sedate these patients so that they have access to the care they need, in the safest and most comfortable way possible. 

Sedation can also be useful for patients who have experienced dental or sexual trauma, claustrophobic patients, patients with sensory aversions including smell aversions, patients with limited bodily or oral range of motion, severe TMJ issues, and many other unique needs or concerns. We specialize in treating a wide range of patients and have extensive experience in this area.

Lastly, sedation options are also a great choice for busy professionals, who don't necessarily feel anxious or fearful, but rather, want to maximize how much treatment can be completed at any given time. If you have extensive treatment needs and do not want to return to the dentist repeatedly for multiple visits, and instead prefer to have "one visit dentistry" where you complete all or most of your treatment in a single appointment, sedation can be a great option for you. It is a safe, effective way for your dentist to be as efficient as possible in performing your treatment. 

Regardless of your situation, we have a sedation option that may be right for you. Give us a call today to schedule your consultation.

Did you know…

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Studies show that over 40% of Americans are affected by dental anxiety, with a further 12% or more suffering from extreme fear. Some studies show these numbers to be as high as 75% of the population!

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Great for Busy Professionals

Our sedation options are ideal for busy professionals, enabling efficient, comfortable treatments with minimized anxiety and downtime.

Special Needs Care

Our office is equipped to provide compassionate and tailored sedation options for patients with special needs, ensuring a comfortable and safe dental experience.

Nitrous Oxide

Nitrous oxide, also known as "laughing gas," is a great option for patients who feel nervous about treatment, but want to avoid being fully sedated and also want to be able to drive home after their procedure with no hangover effects. While nitrous oxide has been known to make children laugh sometimes, in adults, it provides a calming sensation that helps ease your nervous system. It can feel like a floating, worry-free feeling that also makes the time pass by more quickly, and has an effect on your pain tolerance. Right after treatment, you can drive yourself home and get back to your day-to-day routine. This is the simplest level of sedation.

Combination of Nitrous Oxide with Oral Anxiolytics

For patients who want the maximum level of sedation without involving an IV, we use a special combination protocol of utilizing the benefits of both nitrous oxide as well as oral anxiolytics. In this scenario, you would be prescribed the oral sedative to take 1 hour prior to your dental appointment, and sometimes the night before. Upon arrival to the office, you would be given nitrous oxide gas to help sedate you even further. These two medications "potentiate" the effects of each other, making it a very sedating and comfortable experience. Most patients feel drowsy enough to fall asleep, allowing their treatment to be completed in the most comfortable way. This scenario does require you to have someone drive you home.

IV Sedation

IV sedation is performed by a board-certified medical anesthesiologist who comes to our office specifically for your care. This type of sedation, sometimes called "twilight" sedation, is delivered directly into your bloodstream via an IV, causing you to enter into a deeply relaxing state very quickly. While you may forget your procedure, you are not completely unconscious and are still breathing on your own. You will not experience any pain or discomfort during this appointment. This type of sedation is particularly useful for procedures where there will not be a significant amount of water necessary, such as wisdom tooth extraction.

Hospital-grade General Anesthesia

The gold standard of sedation is general anesthesia, which involves intubation, or a breathing tube. We are proud to be one of the only offices in the Northern Virginia area that offers this service in our office for your convenience. In this scenario, you will work directly with our board-certified medical anesthesiologist to ensure you are medically safe for the procedure. During your sedation visit, you will be very safely put under with a combination of an IV as well as through a breathing tube attached to a ventilator. This ventilator blows air directly into your airways to keep you safe. For patients undergoing invasive or lengthy procedures, or for patients with extreme phobia, and of course for our special needs patients, hospital-grade general anesthesia might be the best choice for you. 

The Benefits of Proper Sedation

Faster Procedures

Sedation soothes the body as well as the mind, allowing you to relax into the procedure, which allows your dentist to complete the treatment in less time, and allows them to get more done in any given visit. Sedation allows for efficiency as well as precision.

Keeps Care Precise

Choking and gagging reflexes are put on pause under sedation, so your dentist can complete a n extremely precise procedure without any unexpected movements that could compromise success. Maintaining a dry working field is also a lot easier when you are sedated, which increases the longevity and predictability of your treatment.

Encourages Positive Dental Memories

Experiencing a comfortable treatment reduces your dental anxiety or phobia, and trains your brain to associate positive memories with dentistry. It is important to "replace" the negative associations you may have with dentistry, with more positive experiences. Many of our patients who are particularly fearful or anxious and initially require sedation, end up "graduating" away from needing sedation, as we help them ease their fears and build trust over a period of time. Dental anxiety is curable! We can help.

The Sedation Treatment Process

sedation interview

The best way to determine what will be the most suitable level of sedation, is by your dentist getting to know you and your history a bit better. Your dentist will ask questions to determine your particular needs and concerns. How deeply do you wish to be sedated? Are you able to identify what is making you anxious about your procedure? Do you have a low pain threshold? There are no right or wrong answers. An honest conversation with your dentist will determine which sedation options will be appropriate for you.

dental treatment evaluation and health assessment

If you are able to tolerate a dental examination, your dentist will perform an evaluation and determine your dental needs. If you are interested in or would benefit from sedation, your dentist will then review and discuss your past health history and any current health problems that may affect your ability to be sedated with your chosen method. If you will be receiving general anesthesia, the anesthesiologist will also directly follow up with you regarding your health status, and sometimes coordinate care with your medical doctor/team, depending on your needs.

Discuss Recommendations & sedation Options

Next, your dentist will outline your available sedation options and describe all side effects and instructions, as well as the pros and cons of each choice for you in particular. With the recommendation of Dr. Ahmed and Dr. Barra along with your own input and preferences, we are confident that we can help you choose the right option for your procedure, and exceed your expectations for your dental care.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Check out these frequently asked questions, or call us to speak with our team.

What is sedation used for in dentistry?

There is really no limit to what sedation is used for in dentistry. Most commonly, sedation is used to address dental anxiety, fears, or phobias. Dental anxiety is extremely common for patients of all ages and can keep people from getting the care they need. If you are anxious or nervous about coming to the dentist, or perhaps you are able to sit through cleanings and check-ups, but the thought of a root canal or crown makes you uneasy, sedation can help you feel more safe and comfortable, allowing you to complete your necessary treatment before more serious problems develop.

Sedation also minimizes pain and discomfort during more invasive procedures, such as tooth extractions and dental implant placements. It also helps you feel more comfortable if you require multiple dental procedures and need to sit still for several hours during treatment, or if you want to avoid multiple visits to complete your treatment due to an extensive amount of work that you may require. And of course, sedation is used in dentistry for patients who cannot tolerate dental work while awake and fully conscious, including special needs patients, some trauma survivors, people with certain medical conditions and/or mental or physical disabilities. 

Regardless of your reason, whether a necessity or a preference, the ability to provide sedation for your dental care is something we take great pride in helping you with.

Am I a good candidate for sedation dentistry?

If you are healthy, do not have a history of drug abuse, and are not taking any medications that may interfere with the sedation process, you should be a good candidate for sedation dentistry. Depending on the level of sedation you are seeking, in some cases, there may be restrictions. Reach out to our team to learn more about your options and what will be the safest and most effective option for you.

What does sedation dentistry feel like?

This is largely dependent on the type of sedation you receive, as each sedation option feels a little different. Nitrous, or "laughing gas," can make you feel a bit light-headed and relaxed, but you will be fully conscious and mostly aware of your surroundings. You will also feel less discomfort during treatment, and it has a light "dissociative" effect that makes people lose track of time, in a good way. Many people compare it to a single glass of wine, depending on your tolerance. You are pleasantly calm, but not "asleep."

Oral anxiolytics (typically benzodiazepines), can make you feel a bit drowsy, and greatly help to reduce or eliminate anxiety. Most patients feel calm enough to fall asleep, depending on the dose, their tolerance level, and their metabolism. When oral sedatives are combined with the nitrous oxide, this calming, drowsy effect is even greater. You’ll probably fall asleep and forget most of your procedure. However, you will not be unconscious, and you can still be woken and respond to commands.

General anesthesia is the deepest level of sedation. You will be completely unconscious (in a very controlled, safe environment), and will not feel anything or remember anything from your procedure, which for many people, is very appealing.

Is sedation dentistry safe?

Absolutely. Our team is highly qualified and very experienced in providing all methods of sedation dentistry. And for deeper levels of sedation, such as IV sedation or general anesthesia, rest assured that you will be under the direct care and supervision of a board-certified medical anesthesiologist, who comes to the office especially for you, and uses all the same equipment and monitoring devices used in the hospital. No expense is spared in assuring your safety; it is of the utmost concern for the entire team. Provided you are in good health, sedation is very safe. This is why we spend time evaluating your health history and risk factors before administering any form of sedation.

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