Sedation dentistry has long been the best available method to help anxious dental patients get needed dental care despite their anxiety. It remains a good option, but because of its many drawbacks, it is good for dentists and patients to consider supplemental or alternative treatment with NuCalm, the first effective relaxation dentistry technique capable of producing a consistent relaxation effect without drugs or impairment.

There are three common methods of sedation dentistry: oral sedation, inhaled sedation, and IV sedation. Understanding the mechanism of these types of sedation and how they differ from NuCalm can help you understand how NuCalm is different, and, in many ways, better.

How NuCalm Works

NuCalm and Sedation Dentistry

NuCalm consists of four different techniques that combine to stimulate the body’s natural relaxation pathways. The first is the administration of gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) through a nutrient supplement or a topical cream. GABA is the body’s natural relaxation chemical. When GABA works on your brain, it shuts down activities in preparation for sleep.

Normally when you’re stressed, your body resists GABA, only taking it up in small amounts. But with the cranial electrotherapy stimulation (CES) device, the GABA receptors are more open. The CES also stimulates your brain to produce serotonin, another important sleep regulator chemical.

Headphones are used to deliver music that contains binaural beats–different rhythmic signals in each ear–which helps change your brainwaves from the rapid speeds of an anxious brain to the slower speeds at the edge of sleep.

Light-blocking glasses further help your body establish that it should relax.

How Oral Sedation Works

Oral sedation is a pill that you take before (or after) you come to the dentist’s office. The most common medications used are benzodiazepines which are normally prescribed for sleep..

Benzodiazepines work by targeting GABA receptor sites in the brain, creating an effect similar to sleepiness. In fact, some people fall asleep in the dental chair under the influence of oral sedation.

Side effects of benzodiazepines include lack of coordination, including an inability to stand or perform basic motor tasks. They will require the patient to have an escort to and from the dental appointment. Many benzodiazepines induce amnesia so many people don’t remember their dental appointment at all.

How Nitrous Oxide Sedation Works

Nitrous oxide is a simple molecule that seems to impact a wide range of systems throughout the body. For purposes of sedation, the primary effect is that it uses the same method as benzodiazepines to increase GABA acceptance in the brain.

Some side effects of nitrous oxide are positive, such as pain relief. Others can be pleasant, such as euphoria. There are toxicity risks and potential brain damage has been suggested after exposure for several hours.

How IV Sedation Works

During IV sedation, medications are delivered intravenously and vital signs are closely monitored. The medications can include benzodiazepines, opiates, or ketamine. Ketamine works by preventing certain signals from reaching the brain from the spine, including pain signals. Opiates work by activating special places in the brain that give pleasure and block pain.

Side effects of ketamines include hallucinations, delusions, confusion, and amnesia. Side effects of opiates include addiction risk, and the gradual reduction of efficacy. An escort is recommended for IV sedation as well.

NuCalm’s Minimal Side Effects

Side effects from NuCalm are reduced because it doesn’t use just a single mechanism of action, allowing for each mechanism to be subtler while creating the same overall effect. In order for oral sedation or nitrous to achieve its effects using only a single mechanism, it has to create a substantially greater effect, resulting in greater suppression of your conscious mind and less control over the ultimate effects.

The effects last for a longer period of time, too, because our bodies cannot accommodate or control the chemicals the way we control our brain’s natural chemicals. We have to metabolize and eliminate them.

NuCalm and Sedation Dentistry Can Be Used Together

One of the benefits of NuCalm is that, because it’s a drug free alternative, it has no interactions with sedation dentistry drugs. This means that it can be safely used alongside sedation techniques, as it has been by many dentists, to amplify the effects of sedation dentistry with lower dosages. This improves the efficacy of sedation dentistry and reduces the risk of side effects.

Want to learn whether NuCalm or sedation dentistry is right for you? Please contact a local NuCalm dentist today for a consultation.