subBanner

Sedation Dentistry: What Should I Know?

Sedation dentistry uses medication to help patients relax during dental procedures. It's sometimes referred to as "sleep dentistry," although this is not entirely accurate as patients are usually awake. There are a number of different types of sedation available and its important to understand how they work and when they are used if you’re considering sedation dentistry.

 

Who Can Have Sedation Dentistry?

Sedation dentistry is most appropriate for those patients with a real fear or anxiety that is preventing them from going to the dentist. Children are sometimes given sedation if they are terrified of going to the dentist or refuse to cooperate during the visit. Nitrous oxide tends to be safe in children, and just about any dentist can administer it. Sedation dentistry may also be appropriate for people who have:

  • A low pain threshold
  • Difficulty sitting still in the dentist chair
  • Very sensitive teeth
  • A bad gag reflex
  • A large amount of dental work to be completed

 

Types Of Sedation Used In Dentistry

The following types of sedation are commonly used in dental procedures:

 

  • Inhaled minimal sedation: involves breathing nitrous oxide, otherwise known as "laughing gas” combined with oxygen through a mask placed over your nose. The gas will help you relax and tends to wear off quickly. This is the only type of sedation where you may be able to drive yourself home after the procedure.

 

  • Oral sedation: can range from minimal to moderate sedation. For minimal sedation, you take a pill about an hour before the procedure, which will make you drowsy, although you'll still be awake. A larger dose may be given to produce moderate sedation and is the type of anaesthesia most commonly associated with sedation dentistry. Some people become groggy enough to actually fall asleep during the procedure.

 

  • IV moderate sedation: you receive the sedative drug through a vein, meaning it works quicker. This method allows your dentist to continually adjust the level of sedation. As a rule of thumb, IV sedation is for those patients who want to know nothing about the treatment.

 

  • Deep sedation and general anaesthesia: receiving medications that will make you either almost unconscious or totally unconscious during the procedure. While under general anaesthesia, you cannot easily be woken until the effects of the anaesthesia wear off or are reversed with medication.

 

Regardless of which type of sedation you receive, you'll also typically need a local anaesthetic at the site where the dentist is working in the mouth, to numb the area and relieve pain if the procedure causes any discomfort.

 

Talk To Your Dentist     

Before the procedure, your dentist will go over your medical history and determine whether you are an appropriate candidate for sedation. There’s no doubt that sedation dentistry is a fantastic option for some people, with some dentists even opting to use it themselves when undergoing certain procedures. But it’s not for everyone and it shouldn’t be pushed on patients. For more information about sedation dentistry and techniques, speak to your dentist.