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Conscious Sedation

We Want to Help You Relax!

Modern dentistry offers a variety of options to help patients relax, including nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and oral conscious sedation. When you share your feelings and concerns with us, it becomes easier to adjust our treatment to meet your needs.

Types of Anesthesia

The different types of anesthesia are topical, local, and general. Topical anesthesia is applied to the general area of the mouth to be treated, to numb the surface. This kind of swab is often used to numb the gums in preparation for a local anesthetic injection. Relieving the pain of bad mouth sores is another use for topical anesthetics.

Local Anesthesia

Local anesthetic injections numb a specific area of the mouth, more focused and more thoroughly than topical anesthetics. Local anesthesia is often used in such treatments as filling cavities, crowns, and treating periodontal disease (gum disease).

General Anesthesia

General anesthesia involves nitrous oxide (sometimes referred to as “laughing gas”) or sedative medications to help patients relax during treatment. General anesthetics may be combined with topical and local anesthesia, depending on the individual receiving treatment and the procedure(s) being performed. Sedatives vary in strength and duration, as some are only meant to bring on what is called “minimal or moderate sedation.” This refers to a relaxed state during which a patient feels relaxed but can still respond to touch and the dentist or assistant talking.

Oral Conscious Sedation

Oral conscious sedation medications are measured and evaluated by pharmacists and physicians on a safety scale called the therapeutic index, where the higher the number on the scale, the better the safety rating of the drug. The sedation medications used by Dr. Bulgerin have high numbers on this index.

Important Factors

When Dr. Bulgerin works with you to choose a drug protocol (primary sedation agent) – because there are several – factors such as your level of dental anxiety and your health history are important to share. This includes any medications (prescription, over-the-counter, vitamins and supplements), and habits such as alcohol consumption and smoking. Even certain fruit juices can affect the reaction of sedation medications in the body. For example, patients should not drink grapefruit juice within 72 hours before or after dental treatment with sedation. Prior to your sedation visit, Dr. Bulgerin will go through the proper preparation steps, from diet adjustments and possibly taking a sleep agent the night before, to having a companion drive you to your appointment and what to expect after treatment.

Oral Sedation Pills

Oral sedation pills can be swallowed whole. For patients who have trouble swallowing pills because of a strong gag reflex or whatever reason, the medication can be crushed and taken under the tongue. This method actually quickens the absorption of the sedative into the bloodstream, so many dentists prefer it. Dr. Bulgerin and his assistant will monitor you throughout your conscious sedation, as it works to help you feel relaxed and comfortable during treatment. The purpose is to make hours pass as if they were minutes, even though you can still respond to speech and touch during that time.

Most patients experience little to no discomfort or remaining effects from a sedation dentistry visit. Immediately after treatment, you might feel a little wobbly while the medication wears off, but we will give you simple, helpful instructions for the rest of your day.

Advantages to Oral Conscious Sedation

When you feel anxiety, your threshold for pain is lower and so dental treatment feels more uncomfortable, stressful, and panic-causing than it otherwise would. The most advantageous aspect of oral conscious sedation is that this can be eliminated! The object is to enable you to relax your body and mind to be able to receive the treatment you need and desire. Getting the dental care you need is essential to maintaining good overall health.

Are There Risks?

Taking medication or undergoing any type of anesthesia involves a certain level of inherent rest, so Dr. Bulgerin will consult with you about this. Also, patients’ bodies metabolize pills differently, so the calming effect of sedation medications might take longer in some cases. Because of this, Dr. Bulgerin is cautious and attentive as he administers sedation.

We have found that our combination of sedation dentistry techniques and compassionate staff meets the personal and dental needs of the vast majority of patients.

We love changing lives one smile at a time!


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Meet Dr. Bulgerin

Dr. Timothy J. Bulgerin was raised in Taylor, Texas. He attained his DDS degree from the Dental Branch of the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, working his way through school as a paramedic fire fighter.


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