What is sedation dentistry?
Oral sedation dentistry is now the most common technique used in the United States and Canada to quell patient fears. The technique is easy and requires no needles. Best of all, the medications create such a comfortable experience that most patients do not remember the visit; and some even sleep through the treatment! While sedation dentistry has occasionally been called “sleep dentistry”, it is not something that is promised. While some fall asleep, many don’t. In reality, oral sedation dentistry maintains a level of consciousness in the patient for safety and cooperation, but relaxes them and makes it unlikely that they will remember much about their treatment. We also offer other levels of sedation such as nitrous oxide. More commonly referred to as laughing gas, nitrous oxide is a mild form of sedation dentistry that offers a state of relaxation to the patient. A stronger form of conscious sedation dentistry is IV sedation dentistry. In this method the patient receives the sedatives through an IV, and the effects are stronger than that of oral conscious sedation. The chance for sleep increases (but still is not guaranteed), while the dental anxiety levels rapidly decrease. Our strongest form of sedation is general anesthesia. General anesthesia sedation dentistry is what is practiced in hospitals and puts the patient in a state of unconsciousness during the procedure.
I am nervous about being unconscious. What levels of sedation are available to me?
There is no need to be nervous about having sedation dentistry at our practice. We are licensed by the American Dental Association, and you will find that we are both respectful and professional at all times.
Sedation dentistry is closely regulated by law, and there are three sedative states at which your dentist can administer your treatment: mild sedation, moderate sedation, and deep sedation.
- Mild Sedation — Anxiolysis is the lightest form of sedation dentistry and is often used for patients with mild anxiety, longer procedures, or more complex situations. Mild sedation is usually administered orally. You remain awake or very sleepy throughout the entire procedure and are able to breathe on your own, but you will feel a great sense of relaxation. Patients typically recover from anxiolysis sedation within a few hours after the procedure is complete. Nitrous oxide inhalation (laughing gas) is another form of mild to moderate sedation that results in relaxation during treatment.
- Moderate Sedation — Used for patients with moderate dental anxiety and for patients who need longer or more complex procedures, conscious sedation often refers to the use of light IV sedation. With conscious sedation, you will remain awake throughout your procedure, but will be in a deep state of relaxation. It is recommended that patients who receive conscious sedation have a parent, spouse, or friend accompany them to appointments because it can take several hours for the sedative to wear off and driving may be unsafe.
- Deep Sedation — Patients receiving deep sedation go between consciousness and unconsciousness during their dental procedure. Patients often have no recollection of the treatment and are unable to respond to commands even if they are awake at times during the procedure. It is recommended that patients who receive deep sedation have a parent, spouse, or friend accompany them to appointments because it can take several hours for the sedative to wear off and driving may be unsafe.
How are sedatives administered?
- Inhalation — Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, is the most frequently used method for easing mild to moderate anxiety. Recovery is quick so you can resume your normal activities immediately.
- Oral — An extremely common technique for dental sedation is oral sedation. It is easy and does not require the use of needles. You will be given a prescription pill which, taken about an hour before your appointment, will have you fully relaxed by the time you arrive at our office.
Please contact our practice to schedule a consultation, learn more about sedation dentistry, and find out which sedation dentistry method may be right for you.