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What Is Sedation Dentistry?

Sedation dentistry is a broad term that includes any type of sedation used in dentistry to alleviate fear & anxiety. It is sometimes referred to as "sleep dentistry”. Sedation dentistry is often used during long dental procedures that require an extensive amount of time in the treatment chair. Sedation dentistry is ideal for patients who have dental anxiety, a strong gag reflex, or those who simply wish to have more extensive dental treatment in a shorter time and with fewer appointments.


Who Is Sedation Dentistry Good For?

Sedation dentistry is ideal for people who:
  • Have anxiety when it comes to going to the dentist
  • Have a low pain threshold
  • Don’t feel comfortable in the dentist’s chair for long appointments
  • Have very sensitive teeth
  • Have a bad strong gag reflex
  • Hate the noise or smell associated with dental treatment
  • Need a large amount of dental work completed
  • Don’t have time for multiple appointments to complete complex treatments


 What are the Benefits of Sedation Dentistry?

  • Dental treatment with very little or no stress
  • More treatment in fewer dental visits
  • Little to no memory of the dental appointment
  • Low to no pain
  • Saves you time


 What Types of Sedation Are Used in Dentistry?

The following types of sedation are used in dentistry:
  • Nitrous Oxide- Is a form of light sedation whereby you breathe nitrous oxide -- otherwise known as "laughing gas" -- combined with oxygen through a mask that is placed over your nose. The gas helps you relax. Your dentist can control the amount of sedation you receive, Nitrous oxide is the lightest level of sedation, and is eliminated from the body almost immediately after a patient stops inhaling the gas. The patient is able to drive to and from the office themselves.
  • Anxiolysis- Is a form of minimal oral sedation using only one type of sedative medication, typically Halcion (Triazolam). Halcion is a member of the same drug family as Valium, and it's usually taken about an hour before the procedure. The pill will make you drowsy and relaxed, although you'll still be responsive. Because the medication lingers for several hours, someone will need to drive you to and from the office.
  • Oral Conscious Sedation- Oral sedation is a more moderate form of oral sedation than anxiolysis. Like with Anxiolysis, Halcion is used, but typically in larger doses and in combination with other medications in the same family of drugs. This is the type of sedation most commonly associated with sedation dentistry. Some people become groggy enough from moderate oral sedation to actually fall asleep during the procedure. They usually can, though, be awakened with a gentle shake. Most people have very little memory of their dental procedure afterwards, as the medications have an amnesic affect. During Oral Sedation, the patient is continually monitored using a device that measures heart rate, blood pressure and blood oxygen levels. As with Anxiolysis, someone will need to drive you to and from the office.
  • IV Sedation- This is an even deeper level of sedation than oral sedation. You receive the sedative drugs through a vein, so it goes to work very quickly. You will get medications that will make you totally unconscious -- deeply asleep -- during the procedure. While you are under IV sedation, you cannot easily be awakened until the effects of the anesthesia are reversed with other medications. You will be thoroughly monitored throughout the procedure, and someone will have to drive you to and from the office.
Regardless of which type of sedation you receive, you'll also typically need a local anesthetic -- numbing medication at the site where the dentist is working in the mouth -- to relieve pain if the procedure causes any discomfort.


How long am I going to be relaxing?

This is going to vary depending on your treatment needs and the type of sedation we will be using. We may have you sedated in our office for anywhere from less than an hour up to several hours. With nitrous oxide, the effects dissipate almost immediately once you stop inhaling it. With the other forms of sedation, the effects will linger throughout the day, and it is important to rest at home for the remainder of the day following treatment.


Will it be OK for me to drive to or from my appointment?

Not with Anxiolysis, Oral Sedation or IV Sedation. We will require that a trusted friend or family member accompany you to and from your appointment. Not only should they be driving for you, but they should be available to watch you for the remainder of the day, as the effects of the sedation will linger for several hours. It is important to realize that even though you may feel great right after the appointment, you are still under the effects of the medication. You should also remember that you are NOT allowed to operate a vehicle or any type of machinery until the medication has fully worn off by the following day. Lastly, you should avoid carrying out tasks that require you to be coordinated. This includes tasks such as climbing stairs, exercising, etc.


Is sedation safe?

Absolutely! Sedation dentistry is safely administered thousands of times in dental offices throughout the country each year. You will be monitored by our trained team throughout your treatment in our office. For oral sedation and IV sedation we will also use special monitoring equipment to monitor your vital signs throughout.


Cost of Sedation Dentistry?

The cost of sedation dentistry varies depending on the type of sedation used, length of the appointment, and monitoring devices used. Simple sedation with Nitrous Gas or Anxiolysis can cost as little as $150 per visit, while deeper IV sedation can cost over $1,000 per visit. When you come to our office for a consultation, your treatment options, sedation options and costs will be discussed with you in depth. We will arrange your treatment plan to best fit your budget, and even arrange for financing if desired.