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What Is Sedation Dentistry: Types, Costs, Experience

There’s no denying that a trip to the dentist can call up a sense of fear for many people. But what if we told you that dentistry no longer means discomfort or pain? With advanced medical science, we now have a comfortable solution to dental anxiety, known as sedation dentistry.

This blog post will walk you through sedation dentistry, its different types, its cost, and what you would experience during the procedure.

What Is Sedation Dentistry?

Sedation dentistry uses a variety of sedatives administered orally, intravenously, or through inhalation before and during a dental procedure. Patients under sedation experience a deep state of relaxation and may even fall asleep but can still respond to touch or speech.

Sedation dentistry makes it possible for patients who avoid the dentist due to fear and anxiety to receive the dental care they need. Aside from reducing dental anxiety, it can also be beneficial for people who have a low pain threshold, can’t sit still in the dentist’s chair, have a strong gag reflex, or need large amounts of dental work completed.

It also allows the dentist to work more effectively by helping patients remain still and comfortable, possibly reducing the amount of visits needed.

Types of Sedation Dentistry

1. Nitrous Oxide Sedation (Mild Sedation/Conscious Sedation)

So, what is conscious sedation dentistry?

Also known as “laughing gas,” nitrous oxide is breathed through a mask over your nose. This type of sedation aids relaxation during dental treatments and wears off quickly once the gas supply is stopped.

Your level of consciousness remains undisturbed; you can still interact with your dentist but feel a level of relaxation. It’s ideal if you have mild to moderate dental anxiety or a sensitive gag reflex.

2. Oral Sedation (Moderate Sedation)

What is oral sedation in dentistry? Oral sedation involves ingesting a sedative in pill form about an hour before dental treatments. The level of sedation varies from minimal to moderate, depending on the dosage. It helps curb dental anxiety, making the dental experience comfortable.

You might feel drowsy, but this form of sedation doesn’t usually put you to sleep. It’s a commonly used sedation method for patients with sensitive teeth or strong gag reflexes.

3. Intravenous (Deep Sedation)

What is IV sedation dentistry? This moderate to deep sedation involves the administration of sedative drugs directly into a vein. IV sedation works quickly, allowing a deeper level of sedation where you remain minimally aware of your surroundings.

This method is typically used for more complex dental procedures and is a tremendous help to those with a high level of anxiety. Your memories of the dental procedure will be vague or non-existent once the sedative effects wear off.

What Are the Benefits of Dental Sedation?

  • Eases Dental Anxiety. The majority of people experience some level of anxiety when going to the dentist. Conscious sedation in dentistry can help to alleviate this dental anxiety, helping patients to relax during dental treatment.
  • Improves the Dental Experience. Using sedative drugs during dental procedures can help deliver a more positive dental experience, especially for patients with sensitive teeth or strong gag reflexes.
  • Enhances Efficiency. Sedation dentistry allows for complex procedures to be conducted more efficiently. Patients are generally more cooperative under sedation, leading to fewer interruptions and a smoother process overall.
  • Quick Recovery Times. Unlike general anesthesia, recovery times from most dental sedation methods like nitrous oxide, oral sedation, and intravenous sedation are relatively quick. This means patients can usually resume their normal activities shortly after their dental appointment.
  • Reduction in Pain. Many forms of sedation in dentistry numb the mouth, reducing discomfort during procedures. This is particularly beneficial for patients with a low pain threshold.
  • Helps With Sensitive Gag Reflexes. Dental procedures can become complicated if a patient has a sensitive gag reflex. Sedation can help by calming the reflex, making for a more manageable procedure.
  • Better Quality of Care. Through the calming effects of sedation dentistry, your dentist can provide better attention to detail, resulting in a beautiful smile without you feeling any discomfort.

Who Needs Sedation Dentistry?

Not only do people with dental anxiety or phobia need sedation when undergoing dental procedures. Individuals with the following conditions can also choose any of the sedation options according to their needs:

  • Patients Undergoing Long or Complex Procedures. Certain dental procedures can be lengthy or complex, including root canal treatments, tooth extractions, and dental implant surgeries. For these procedures, nitrous oxide sedation or oral sedatives may be recommended to help patients stay calm and relaxed throughout the entire process.
  • Individuals with High Pain Sensitivity or Sensitive Oral Nerves. Some people have extremely low pain thresholds or highly sensitive oral nerves. For these individuals, even minor dental procedures can cause discomfort, making sedation a beneficial option.
  • People with a Strong Gag Reflex. An overly sensitive gag reflex can make dental procedures challenging. Sedation can help suppress this reflex, making it easier for the dentist to perform the procedure.
  • Fear of Needles. If a patient has a fear of needles, which are often used in dental procedures for local anesthesia, sedation dentistry can help alleviate this fear.
  • Special Needs Patients. Some patients with physical or mental disabilities may struggle with cooperating during a dental procedure due to anxiety or inability to understand instructions. Sedation dentistry can make dental visits more comfortable for these individuals.

How Much Does Sedation Dentistry Cost?

The cost of sedation dentistry varies widely depending on several factors, such as the type of sedation used, the dental procedure itself, your insurance coverage, and the dentist’s professional fees.

Oral sedation and nitrous oxide are often more affordable, ranging from $200 to $300 per hour. In contrast, IV sedation could be somewhat more costly, considering its immediate effects and the necessity of a skilled anesthesiologist.

However, you must consult your dentist and explore the most suitable option for you.

What Should You Expect With Sedation Dentistry?

1. Choice of Sedation Method

Based on your anxiety level, medical history, and the complexity of the dental treatment you’re undergoing, your dental professional will suggest the most appropriate form of sedation. This could range from minimal sedation (where you’re awake but relaxed) to deep sedation (where you’re on the edge of consciousness).

2. Administering Sedation

The sedative drugs can be delivered in a variety of ways, such as pill form, inhalation sedation using nitrous oxide through a mask (commonly known as ‘laughing gas’), or intravenous sedation directly into your bloodstream for immediate effect.

3. During the Procedure

You’ll remain mildly conscious during the entire procedure, experiencing a state of deep relaxation. Dental sedation will help manage pain and anxiety, making even complex procedures more comfortable. Expect very little to no memory of the procedure afterward.

4. After the Procedure

You may feel groggy or sleepy post-procedure, particularly with moderate or deep sedation, requiring someone to assist you at home. Resting for the remainder of the day is advised to help your body recover.

5. Anxiety Management

If your level of anxiety is high, conscious sedation can significantly aid in reducing it, enhancing your overall dental treatment experience. This is what makes sedation dentistry a go-to choice for those with dental anxiety or sensitive gag reflexes.

6. Recovery Times

Recovery times may vary depending on the level and type of sedation used. It’s generally faster with nitrous oxide than with oral or intravenous sedation.

Break Free From Dental Anxiety With Sedation Dentistry Services At Artesa Dental

Artesa Dental always strives to turn your dental visit into a comfortable and pain-free experience. Our highly skilled dental professional team is gentle and highly trained in sedation dentistry. So, don’t let dental anxiety hold you back. Get in touch with us today and embrace the journey towards a healthier, happier smile.

Remember, a healthy smile is a long-lasting investment in yourself, and taking care of it should never be a source of anxiety or unease. At Artesa Dental, we have the comfort, care, and expertise you need for a truly relaxed treatment experience.


About Dr. Amanda Backstrom

Dr. Backstrom was born and raised in Georgia and graduated magna cum laude with a BS degree in Biology from the University of Georgia in 2002. She earned her Doctor of Dental Medicine from Tufts University in Boston in 2007.

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