Imagine undergoing a complex dental treatment like a root canal, extraction, or oral surgery. When your treatment is complete, you have no recollection of the time it took, the pain, the noise, or the discomfort you were expecting. We are pleased to offer our patients the option of comfortable, safe, and effective sedation dentistry. Patients who benefit from sedation dentistry have:
- A fear or anxiety of being at the dentist
- A hard time sitting still for long periods of time
- A hard time getting (and staying) numb from anesthetics
What is sedation dentistry?
Sedation dentistry allows your doctor to provide a variety of dental treatments safely and comfortably for patients who experience anxiety when visiting the dentist. There are several benefits to sedation dentistry, including:
- No memory of undergoing the procedure
- No sense of time while under sedation
- No sense of smell or sound
- No fear or anxiety during treatment
Patients who have undergone a procedure using sedation dentistry will tell you it is a simple, relaxing way to experience dentistry.
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.
- IV — Your doctor will gently place an IV and administer medication to help you into a deeper state of relaxation. Once your treatment is complete, you will wake up with little or no memory of the appointment and a beautiful new smile.
We recognize that some of our patients may feel anxious or apprehensive about receiving dental care. Our doctors and staff work hard to make sure that you have a comfortable, positive experience, and that's why we are pleased to offer sedation dentistry for those patients needing a little extra comfort before receiving treatment. Feeling anxious about receiving dental care should never prevent you from having the beautiful, healthy smile you deserve.
Customized sedation dentistry that is safe and effective
There are different types of sedation dentistry, and you and your doctor will work together to decide on a personalized treatment plan that will give you the care you need while ensuring your comfort every step of the way.
How sedation dentistry works
About an hour before you begin your dental treatment, you will be given a small pill to help you relax. Due to the sedative nature of the pill, you will need someone to accompany you to your appointment because you will not be able to drive. When you arrive at our practice, our staff will be waiting for you and will escort you to a private room where you'll be treated.
Your doctor will gently place an IV and administer medication to help you into a deeper state of relaxation. Once your treatment is complete, you will wake up with little or no memory of the appointment and a beautiful new smile. Using sedation dentistry, we may be able to complete many different procedures, including complex smile makeovers, in just one office visit.
Common questions about sedation dentistry
We understand that you may have many questions about sedation dentistry before receiving treatment. Here are some of the most common questions and answers about sedation dentistry:
- Will I feel anything during my treatment?
In most cases, patients do not feel anything. There is very little discomfort, and many patients wake up feeling relaxed and comfortable with almost no memory of the treatment.
- Is sedation dentistry the same as being unconscious?
No. You will still be conscious and responsive but you will be in a deep state of relaxation.
- Is sedation dentistry safe?
Sedation dentistry is a safe and effective way for many patients to receive dental treatment. Before starting your treatment with IV sedation, your doctor will help you decide if IV sedation is right for your treatment.
- How long will it take the sedation to wear off?
The time it takes for the sedatives to wear off depends on the dose you've received, how long your treatment is, and how quickly your own body can recover. Because sedation causes drowsiness, it is recommended that you have a family member or friend drive you to and from your appointment. After your treatment, you should not drive, drink alcohol, or operate machinery.
- Am I a good candidate for sedation dentistry?
Any patient, from child to adult, who experiences dental anxiety is a good candidate for sedation dentistry. If you have any of the following fears or concerns, ask your doctor about sedation dentistry as an option for your next dental treatment:
- Extreme dental anxiety, or fear of visiting the dentist
- Fear of needles and/or shots
- Past traumatic dental experience
- Inability to handle the smells or noises at a dentist's office
- Overly sensitive teeth, a strong gag reflex, or trouble getting numb
- Need for a more complex dental treatment
- Self-consciousness about one's teeth
- Desire for a more comfortable dental treatment
If you feel that you could benefit from sedation dentistry at your next appointment, please contact us and let us know how we can better accommodate your needs.