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Sedation Dentistry

Imagine undergoing a complex dental treatment like a root canal, extraction, or oral surgery. When your treatment is complete, you have little to no recollection of the time it took, or the noise or the discomfort you were expecting. We are pleased to offer our patients the option of comfortable, safe, and effective sedation dentistry. Patients who benefit from sedation dentistry have:

  • A fear or anxiety of being at the dentist
  • A hard time sitting still for long periods of time
  • A hard time getting (and staying) numb from anesthetics

What is Sedation Dentistry?

Sedation dentistry allows your doctor to provide a variety of dental treatments safely and comfortably for patients who experience anxiety when visiting the dentist. There are several benefits to sedation dentistry, including:

  • Less memory of undergoing the procedure
  • Minimal sense of time while under sedation
  • Lowered senses of smell and sound
  • Reduced fear or anxiety during treatment

Patients who have undergone a procedure using sedation dentistry will tell you it is a simple, relaxing way to experience dentistry.

I am nervous about being unconscious. What levels of sedation are available to me?

There is no need to be nervous about having sedation dentistry at our practice. You will find that we are both respectful and professional at all times.

Sedation dentistry is closely regulated by law, and our practice offers 2 types of sedation: mild sedation and moderate sedation.

  • Mild Sedation — “Anxiolysis” (anxiety reduction) is the lightest form of sedation dentistry and is often used for patients with mild anxiety, longer procedures, or more complex situations. Mild sedation is administered orally and is available at no extra cost beyond filling the prescription (usually less than $10). You remain awake but more relaxed throughout the entire procedure and are able to breathe on your own. Anxiolysis sedation usually wears off within a few hours after the procedure is complete, but patients should avoid driving afterwards.
  • Moderate Sedation — Used for patients with moderate to severe dental anxiety and for patients who need longer or more complex procedures, oral conscious sedation is achieved with a similar type of prescription pill as mild sedation but with a somewhat stronger effect. With conscious sedation, you will remain technically awake or sleep lightly throughout your procedure, but will be in a deep state of relaxation. It is mandatory that patients receiving conscious sedation have a parent, spouse, or friend accompany them to appointments because it can take several hours for the sedative to wear off and driving will be unsafe.

How are sedatives administered?

  • We use pills taken by mouth to achieve mild to moderate levels of sedation. It is easy and does not require the use of needles. You will be given a prescription pill which, taken about an hour before your appointment, will have you fully relaxed by the time you arrive at our office.

Please contact our practice to schedule a consultation, learn more about sedation dentistry, and find out which sedation dentistry method may be right for you.

Do you use nitrous oxide?

Our office does not use Nitrous Oxide, known as laughing gas, and we are able to take care of virtually 100% of our patients without it! In almost all cases we manage anxiety without it, and often our alternatives are better for our patients. There are several reasons we choose not to use it despite it being a good, safe option to help some patients relax during their occasional dental work.

The main reason we choose not to have it in our office is the long-term exposure risks to our staff and ourselves. Long-term exposure of dental providers to NO2 can potentially lead to detrimental action on the reproductive, neurological, haematological, hepatic and renal systems, plus the possibility of increased cancer risk have been the subject of active research, although absolute occupational effects are still uncertain. If you feel you need to be at a dental office that provides nitrous, we can give you a referral to one of our trusted colleagues in town who dose use it in their office.

When would I need to be referred?

We are able to accommodate almost everyone, including many patients with a fear of the dentist and bad past experiences, by the prescription of the oral sedatives listed above, but there are certain procedures on some patients that may need a referral to a separate office. If you feel you need to be completely sedated with General Anesthesia for tooth extractions, we will refer you to the gentlest Oral Surgeon in town who will administer that deepest level of sedation.

If you have a complex medical history which makes them a poor candidate for oral sedation, we will discuss what options you have in order to make you more comfortable/less anxious during your needed procedure. If your young child is very anxious about having dental work done and cannot sit still to receive proper care with us, they would generally be best taken care of at a children’s dentist where they are equipped to handle them.