Sedation dentistry

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Sedation dentistry, or sleep dentistry, is a technique used to reduce dental anxiety through the use of various medications. These medications put you in a semi-conscious or unconscious state and help you get through tougher dental procedures. Once sedated, you won’t be aware of your surroundings or remember much of anything happening. Sedation dentistry is ideal for those who need extensive dental work or require complex treatments. There are several different sedation techniques which include Nitrous Oxide, oral conscious sedation, IV sedation, and general anesthesia. The goal of all sedation techniques is to help you conquer your dental-phobia and to fix your smile.

Do I need sedation dentistry?


Sedation dentistry is a great option for some people, but sedation is not for everyone. The vast majority of dental patients do just fine without relying on sedation dentistry. Treatments like dental cleanings, fillings, and crowns are not suitable for sedation dentistry. On the other hand, there are some cases which are ideal candidates for sleep dentistry. Some patients never muster up enough courage to fix their mouths without sleep dentistry. Here are a few examples of cases that are great candidates for sedation dentistry:

Extreme dental-phobia


Some people are so afraid of going to the dentist that they refuse to see one. They avoid seeing the dentist for years while their oral health continues to deteriorate. If this sounds familiar to you, then sedation dentistry might be the only way you can conquer your dental-phobia. Schedule a consultation with a dentist that offers sedation to discuss your treatment options. Work with your dentist to come up with a plan to overcome your dental anxiety using the proper sedation technique for your needs.

Wisdom tooth surgery

Sedation dentistry is highly recommended for wisdom tooth surgery. If you have complicated wisdom teeth or plan on removing all four of your wisdom teeth then sedation is a must! However, removing simpler wisdom teeth that are not as difficult can typically be completed without any type of sedation.

Extensive dental work

Sleep dentistry is especially useful when you require extensive dental work, for example:

  • Removal of multiple teeth
  • Placement of several dental implants
  • Full mouth rehabilitation
  • Complex jaw or gum surgeries
  • All-on-four implant surgery

During sedation, your dentist completes a vast majority of your treatment during a single appointment. They may remove several bad teeth, place a few dental implants, and work on your gum disease, all during a single sedation session. Without sedation dentistry, you would require half-a-dozen or more appointments which would take several weeks or months to complete the same amount of work. This means that you save a lot of time and spare yourself countless hours in the dentist chair by opting to go for sedation dentistry.

Getting sedation is a personal decision. Ultimately, it’s your choice to get sedated or not. Occasionally, some patients choose to get sedated for simpler procedures such as dental cavities, crowns, or root canals. Have an honest discussion with your dentist to determine if sedation dentistry is right for you of if there are other ways for you to manage your anxiety.

What are the different sedation dentistry options?


There are a few different sedation dentistry techniques, which are:

  • Nitrous Oxide
  • Oral conscious sedation
  • IV sedation
  • General anesthesia

Nitrous Oxide

Nitrous Oxide is a gas that makes you feel relaxed and light-headed. Inhaling Nitroux Oxide helps take the edge off during more intense dental appointments. The benefit of Nitrous Oxide is that it is very simple to administer and requires no preparation. Nitrous Oxide has no side-effects or risks and it clears your body within minutes after you stop inhaling the gas. Nitrous Oxide is the least effective sedation technique and is only suitable for patients with minimal anxiety. 

Oral conscious sedation


Oral conscious sedation is another very popular sedation technique. This type of sedation works extremely well for the vast majority of sedation patients. You will be given some medications, from the Benzodiazepine family, which make you calm and relax during your appointment. Oral conscious sedation results in mild sedation and puts you in a semi-conscious state.

IV sedation

IV sedation is similar to oral conscious sedation, but it relies on injecting medication directly into your veins. This type of sedation puts you into a slightly higher level of sedation and knocks you out to the point that you won’t remember anything afterward. IV sedation will be administered by either your dentist or an anesthesiologist.  

General anesthesia

General anesthesia offers the highest level of sedation. You will be completely out and in a state of deep sedation. In contrast to other forms of sedation, your breathing becomes suppressed during general sedation. This is why general anesthesia can only be administered in a hospital setting under the supervision of an anesthesiologist. General anesthesia is reserved for the toughest dental treatments or for patients who are fully uncooperative due to an underlying mental condition. 

There are a few different sedation techniques to choose from. Your goal should be to use the least invasive sedation technique that is going to permit you to get as much dental work done as possible. Review your needs with your dentist and discuss different sedation options to see which one is best for your needs.

What is a typical sedation appointment like?

Your sedation appointment experience largely depends on the type of sedation that you will be receiving. If you’re simply getting Nitrous Oxide gas then there’s not much to worry about. Simply wear your mask and inhale the Nitrous Oxide while your dentist completes your treatment. Once your treatment is complete, your dentist will remove the Nitrous Oxide mask and you’re all set to go. There’s no need to bring a companion for Nitrous Oxide sedation since NO2 clears your system almost immediately without any lingering side-effects.  

On the other hand, oral conscious sedation, IV sedation, and general anesthesia require extensive preparation. We recommend that you schedule these sedation sessions early in the morning whenever possible. Your appointment will usually take a few hours and you need the rest of the day to recover. Plan on taking the whole day off as you will be out of it during this time. Here is a preview of what a typical sleep dentistry appointment looks like:


All sedation appointments start off with a consultation. Your dentist will review your treatment options and discuss your sedation protocol. They will take any necessary X-rays, CT scans, or study models beforehand. They will review your treatment and obtain all informed consent forms in advance since you won’t be able to engage in any meaningful conversation on the day of surgery. Be sure to take any pills and follow the dietary protocol given by your dentist very carefully.

Find a companion

You need to find a companion for the day of your procedure. Choose a family member or friend who’s willing to be responsible for taking you back and forth to your appointment. Your companion must be responsible for taking care of you for the remainder of the day as well.

Day of your appointment

Be sure to arrive at your sedation appointment on time. Your dentist will take care of everything from this point on. They will either give you additional medications or set up your IV line. Your dentist or anesthesiologist will monitor your vitals throughout your appointment using a pulse oximeter device. Most sedation appointments take a few hours, but you won’t be unaware of time passing by in your sedated state. Once your treatment is completed, you will be released to your companion. Now it’s time to go home and start your recovery process.

Rest and relax

It takes about a day to recover from sedation. You will be extremely drowsy and groggy during this time. Most sedation patients won’t recall much of anything about the day of their appointment. Plan on getting plenty of rest during this time. The effects of sedation start to wear off within a day. Do not resume normal activities until these effects have completely worn off. Be sure to follow your dentist’s instructions carefully so you can have a speedy recovery.

Finding a dentist for sedation dentistry


Finding the right dentist is the key to a successful sedation treatment. Not every dentist offers sedation dentistry. Search for a dentist who not only offers sedation dentistry, but who is capable of doing all of your dental treatment during the sedation appointment. Once you find a dentist that meets these criteria, schedule a consultation with them. Discuss your concerns to learn more about your treatment options as well as sedation options. Be prepared to discuss fixing your whole mouth as most dentists who offer sedation dentistry aim to address multiple dental issues during the sedation appointment.

If you don’t currently have a dentist for your sedation treatment, you can use our dentist Search Engine to help you find one. Look for a dentist who offers “sedation dentistry” as a service and offers whatever other treatment you require (such as extractions, implants, etc.). Stop delaying your essential dental work until you develop an infection or possibly something worse! Click on the link below to find a dentist near you and get your smile back to a healthy and happy state:


Categories: Dental Fear & Anxiety


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