Sedation Dentistry Helps You Relax During Dental Procedures

Sedation Dentistry

about sedation dentistry

What is Sedation Dentistry?

Does the mere thought of having a fluoride treatment or your teeth cleaned cause your body to tense up in utter dread?

Would you rather suffer the pain and agony of an intense toothache than visit the dentist?

Guess what – you’re not alone. Many people have a phobia of visiting the dentist, so much so that they prefer to avoid treatment and not go at all.

If you’re one such person, sedation dentistry may be an option to relieve some of your anxiety. Sedation is often used for everything from root canals to simple teeth cleanings. The severity of the procedure and anxiety determines how it’s used.

By using sedation, we can overcome the traumas of dentistry. If you’ve been putting off years of dental work, sedation dentistry can change your life!

What is Used in Sedation Dentistry?

  • Nitrous Oxide + Oxygen Sedation or “happy gas” is the most frequently used sedation method in dentistry. It is simply a gas which you breathe in; it’s colourless, sweet-smelling and non-irritating.
  • Premedication is administered by taking prescribed tablets prior to your examination.
  • Penthrox (inhalation anaesthesia sedation)
  • I.V. Sedation also known as “deep conscious sedation”. With this type of sedation medications are administered directly into the bloodstream by a qualified anaesthetist.
  • General anaesthesia can be performed at a day hospital should the need arise.

How does it work?

Side view of woman in dental clinic.

Sedation dentistry is the practice of using medication to sedate patients and help them relax during simple and complex dental procedures.

While sometimes called “sleep dentistry,” patients are typically awake during their procedures. Those who undergo general anesthesia for more involved dental procedures are the exception.

The different levels of sedation include:

Minimal sedation – When under minimal sedation, you’re relaxed but fully awake.

Moderate sedation – When under moderate sedation, formerly referred to as “conscious sedation,” you may feel drowsy, slur your words, and only remember bits of the procedure.

Deep sedation – When under deep sedation, you’re skirting the edge of consciousness but can be awakened when needed or immediately following the procedure.

General anesthesia – When under general anesthesia, you’re completely unconscious for an extended period of time.

Happy customer in waiting room

Sedation is generally appropriate for individuals suffering from anxiety who need help relaxing and overcoming their fears of visiting the dentist.

However, sedation dentistry is also often appropriate for patients who:

Have a hard time sitting still in a dentist’s chair

Suffer from a low pain threshold

Have extremely sensitive teeth

Suffer from gag reflex

Need to undergo considerable dental work

Sometimes, sedation can even be appropriate for children who have a fear of the dentist or need help cooperating during their visit. Almost any dentist can administer nitrous oxide, and it is generally safe for children.

For extreme cases and serious paediatric dental work, a paediatric dentist may be needed to administer stronger oral sedation. Oral sedation can be safe when the dose falls within the recommended dosage guidelines for the age and weight of the child.

The majority of dentists are capable of administering nitrous oxide, pills, and other forms of minimal sedation. In fact, more and more dentists are administering moderate sedation as well.

However, only a small number of dentists who have undergone advanced training and accreditation can administer general anaesthesia and deep sedation as these require special knowledge, skills, and complex techniques.

In most cases, these dentists are in fact dentist anaesthesiologists or oral and maxillofacial surgeons who have been specially trained to administer all types of anaesthesia and achieve all levels of sedation.

Since the use of sedation is carefully regulated, many dentists are required to hold special permits in order to administer sedation.

Is it Safe?

Yes, sedation dentistry is generally quite safe when given by a qualified, experienced dentist. However, with anaesthesia, there is always some form of risk present.

sedation dentist perth

Certain people are also at higher risk of complications than others. If you are obese or suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, you are more likely to experience complications arising from anaesthesia.

We can’t stress enough how important it is to make sure your dentist is well-qualified and trained to administer the sedation you’ll be receiving.

As a smart patient, you should:

  • Go over your medical history prior to the procedure to determine whether or not you’re a candidate for sedation.
  • Ask your dentist about the type of sedative they will use and the appropriate dosage for your age and weight.
  • Research your dentist to find out how much training he or she has had and how many sedation dentistry procedures he or she has performed. The more, the better.
  • Receive a form outlining the risks of the sedation and procedure. You should review the form with your dentist and ask questions if anything is unclear.
  • Make sure your vital signs are being monitored throughout the procedure. Artificial ventilation, oxygen, and sedative-reversing drugs should also be on hand in case you need them.

Our Dental Team Can Help You Get Your Perfect Smile!

At 123 Dental, we believe patient comfort translates to quality care. If you’re anxious about visiting our office, feel free to contact us to discuss our sedation dentistry training, practices, and track record of success.

Sedation Dentistry FAQs

Which Dental Treatments or Procedures Can Be Performed Under Sedation?

It’s a common misconception that sedation is only suitable for patients needing oral surgery, such as wisdom tooth removal, emergency dental treatment, and jaw surgery. In reality, it can be used in various procedures, even non-invasive ones. Aside from helping alleviate anxiety in patients, especially young children, sedation can be administered to those requiring minor oral surgeries. Examples of these procedures include tooth extraction, root canal therapy, and placement of dental implants.
Even those who generally need dental fillings, scaling, and similar treatments can be sedated if they are too nervous about continuing. Sedation may also be given to patients requiring cosmetic procedures, including teeth whitening and veneers.

How Long Does the Patient Have to Stay Under Sedation?

Sedation can wear off anywhere from one to six hours, depending on the type of drug used. Some medications are reported to retain their effects for more than eight hours.
Nitrous or laughing gas, for example, can show its effects rapidly, within one to two minutes. However, once the mask is removed, the effects disappear almost right away. As for IV sedation, it typically takes effect within 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the person and the potency of the drug. Once removed, the patient can wake up in about 20 minutes. Recovery from the sedative effects can take six hours.

Can Sedation Help Relieve Pain?

The short answer is yes. It is understandable that people fear the dentist because of the pain they could feel during a procedure. Tooth and gum pain can become unbearable for certain patients. It increases once they see the dentist’s chair due to dental anxiety. But sedation dentistry completely removes pain, which is why it is beneficial for people with low pain tolerance.
According to science, the human brain cannot recognise symptoms, including pain, when under sedation. Therefore, if you want a pain-free dental procedure, you should express your interest in sedation dentistry.

Are There Any Negative Side Effects of Getting Sedated?

Just like with any medication and procedure, it is possible that you will feel a few side effects once the sedative wears off. However, several patients do not have problems and can begin feeling like normal after a certain amount of time.
The most common side effects are very minor, and they include grogginess, amnesia or memory loss, headaches, and nausea. Typically, they only take an hour or so, so you can be up and about after that. Other patients may feel that their mouths are dry during and after the procedure.

What Should Be Done After Getting Sedated?

It is never a good idea to go home on your own, especially if you plan on driving after getting a sedative. The only exception is when you only had laughing gas or nitrous oxide. Since the effects are gone almost right after removing the oxygen mask, you can drive yourself home. However, to be on the safe side, have someone drive you, even if you just received laughing gas.
It’s also essential to stay away from any dangerous equipment, including knives, scissors, and garden tools, for about 24 hours. Let a family member or friend know that you will have the procedure. That way, you can have someone to look after you.

Does Dental Insurance Cover Sedation Dentistry?

Aside from the pain due to tooth extraction or any other procedure, one more reason why sedation dentistry causes anxiety in patients is its cost. But it’s not actually that expensive. The price will depend on the drug used and your treatment in hours. The longer the procedure is, the more costly it may become.
If you have an extras policy, sedation dentistry can be covered if your policy includes dental. However, it will not cover the entire dental treatment. Note that private health funds do not pay for anaesthesia.