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Sedation Dentistry

You will be comfortable during dental procedures with sedation dentistry. It is helpful for dental patients with anxiety and other conditons.

The use of sedation in dentistry.

You will be comfortable during dental procedures with sedation dentistry. It is helpful for dental patients with anxiety or those undergoing lengthy treatments. Some forms of sedation dentistry require special certifications, such as nitrous oxide, oral conscious sedation, and intravenous (IV) sedation.

How does sedation dentistry work?

In sedation dentistry, you feel relaxed, comfortable, and at ease during dental procedures. It’s a moderate level of sedation, so you’re technically awake, but you feel much less stressed. Since it causes short-term amnesia (forgetfulness) where you experience insensitivity to pain without losing consciousness, conscious sedation dentistry is sometimes referred to as twilight sleep.

Is sedation dentistry necessary for everyone?

Sedation dentistry can benefit people of all ages, including children. Dentists often recommend it for patients with:

  • A fear of dental work.
  • Having a fear of going to the dentist.
  • A gag reflex that is overly sensitive.
  • The fear of needles (arachnophobia).
  • Sensitive teeth.
  • When in the dental chair, one feels claustrophobic.
  • Anesthesia sensitivity is reduced.
  • The ability to control movements is difficult.
  • Behavioral, cognitive, or physical special needs.

In dentistry, what types of sedation are used?

Your level of anxiety, the length of the procedure, your health history and personal preferences determine the level of sedation dentistry that is right for you. Nitrous oxide, oral conscious sedation, and intravenous (IV) sedation are the three most common forms of sedation dentistry.

The gas nitrous oxide

A mask or nosepiece is used to inhale nitrous oxide, commonly known as “laughing gas.” Within three to five minutes, the calming effects start. Once your treatment is over, your dentist gives you pure oxygen to flush out the nitrous oxide from your system. Your dentist controls how much sedation you receive and adjusts dosages accordingly. The laughing gas leaves your system so quickly that you can drive yourself home after the procedure.

Conscious sedation by mouth

About one hour before your procedure begins, your dentist gives you sedative medication (usually in pill form). Most dentists use triazolam (Halcion®), which is related to diazepam (Valium®). But your dentist might also use other medications, such as zaleplon and lorazepam. Midazolam oral syrup is commonly used in pediatric dentistry as liquid sedation.

You may even fall asleep under oral sedation, but you will be able to communicate with your dentist if necessary, and you will be gently nudged back to consciousness. Because oral sedation temporarily affects your memory and motor skills, you’ll need a friend or family member to drive you home after your procedure.

Sedation administered intravenously (IV)

The deepest level of conscious sedation available in a dental office setting is IV sedation dentistry. Your healthcare provider administers sedative medications directly into your bloodstream through an IV line. While your procedure is going on, your dentist monitors your blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen levels. Your dentist can adjust your dosage at any time and use reversal medications if necessary. In general, people receiving IV sedation dentistry fall asleep and have little to no memory of their treatment when they wake up. This option is best for those who are suffering from severe dental anxiety or who need lengthy procedures.

When is general anesthesia used in dentistry?

There are times when general anesthesia may be required in a hospital or ambulatory surgery center for children, adults with special needs, or patients with severe dental anxiety. In general anesthesia, you are completely unconscious during the procedure. To provide general anesthesia, a dentist must have advanced, specialized training. In most cases, anesthesiologists provide this type of anesthesia.


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Ammar Mousa, DDS

With multiple years of experience, Dr. Mousa is a compassionate dentist who offers comprehensive, high quality gentle dental care in his state-of-the-art practice.

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