Dental anxiety is the most common reason why most kids avoid visiting a dentist. No matter how unbearable their tooth pain is, some kids would rather die with pain than go to the dentist. Dental anxiety is not only common among kids, but even adults are scared to death with just the thought of going to a dentist. 

Are you among those who have dental anxiety? Do you have kids who keep avoiding dental visits? If yes, don’t worry, you’re not the only one. As per the American Dental Association (ADA), almost 22% of Americans skip their dental appointments just because they fear the dentist. 

So, how do you get over dental anxiety? Sedation dentistry is the answer. Sedation can be used for everything from invasive procedures to simple tooth cleaning. But, how it’s used depends on the severity of the fear.

Some dental sedation can even make you sleep. To find out more about the sedation dentistry use options, you should talk to your dentist about the right dental sedation for your dental procedure. 

What is Sedation Dentistry and How Does It Work?

Sedation dentistry is the process of using medication or drugs to relax the patient before or during the dental procedures. Though sedation dentistry is sometimes referred to as “sleep dentistry,” patients are usually awake in most cases. Complete sleep happens only when the patient is under anesthesia. 

Sedation dentistry can be used for both adults and children to perform services such as cosmetic or restorative procedures. When on sedation, patients often have no memory of undergoing procedures and feel no fear or anxiety while in the dental chair.

You may ask, how does it work? 

It’s simple. Once you take the medication and as it begins to work, you will start to feel drowsy and relax. While you’re relaxed, your dentist will take care of all the dental procedures needed. 

If you want to take an oral sedative, your dentist will write you a prescription for the drug and give you instructions on how to take it or give you the proper medication in the office.  For IV sedation you might need to prepare in advance, your dentist will tell you what to do. If you opt for nitrous oxide or your dentist decides to use it, you don’t have to do anything, your dentist will supply it before, during, and right after the procedure.

There are sets of rules and guidelines for dentists to comply with their state laws when providing sedation dentistry drugs and anesthesia to a person. The dentist must be qualified and should have extensive sedation dentistry experience to carry out such procedures.

What Types of Sedation Are Used in Dentistry?

Dental sedation comes in different levels:

  • Minimal Sedation (Anxiolysis) 

Minimal sedation, or anxiolysis, is the sedation level in which the patient is fully awake but relaxed. An individual who is on anxiolysis can communicate, has normal breathing and cardiovascular functions but cognitive function and coordination are affected. 

Nitrous oxide is the most used drug for anxiolysis, The gas is made to inhale with the help of a nose-hood place over the nose before and throughout the treatment. The patient will experience some sort of tingling, numbness, and relaxation. 

  • Moderate Sedation

Moderate sedation is also known as analgesia and it involves just a bit higher of a dose of sedation than mild sedation. When an individual is on moderate sedation, they can breathe independently, and cardiovascular function is usually stable but they may mispronounce words when speaking and not remember much of the procedure. 

The patient is instructed to take the medication before being driven to the appointment by a responsible caregiver and, once at the appointment, may receive additional medication as needed to ensure comfort or be given the medication at the time of the appointment.

  • Deep Sedation/Analgesia

Deep sedation is the deepest level of sedation dentistry, but it is not considered a sedation dentistry modality. When an individual is in deep sedation they might not breathe freely, lose some reflexes, is unable to respond to verbal stimulation, and might be in a half-conscious half-unconscious state. And the effect may linger for hours after the procedure is completed. 

Deep sedation is generally achieved with the help of IV sedation or general anesthesia medication. With deep sedation dentistry, you’re basically on the edge of consciousness but can still be awakened.

  • General Anesthesia 

General anesthesia is generally not considered to be sedation because when a person is on general anesthesia, they are completely unconscious. They won’t respond to painful stimulation, can’t breathe on their own, heart rate is impacted, and should be under strict monitoring. General anesthesia is only used in surgery or given to people who are not good candidates for sedation dentistry. 

Patients receiving sedation dentistry treatments must be accompanied by a responsible friend, family member, or caregiver who will drive them home. After the appointment, this individual should stay with the patient until the effects of the sedation have worn off.

Depending on your needs and preference, your dental professional can choose from one of the following types of sedation:

  • Inhaled Sedation – Inhaled sedation is a type of sedation dentistry that is taken through a mask combined with oxygen and nitrous oxide. This type of sedation is mainly used for minimal sedation. 
  • Oral Sedation – Oral sedation is taken in the form of pills or liquid and can be used for both minimal and moderate sedation. The most commonly used pill for oral sedation is Halcion. The pills should be taken one hour prior to the dental procedure.  This sedation dentistry helps quiet the mind, reduce stress, drowsy and worry-free. 
  • IV Sedation – IV sedation is only recommended if a patient wants to completely fall asleep during dental procedures. When a person is on IV sedation dentistry, they should be kept under strict surveillance. During the procedure, heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen levels should also be primary concerns. 

Who Can Have Sedation at the Dentist?

Almost anyone can have some level of sedation. It is most appropriate for those who suffer from one or more of the following conditions:

  • Fear or anxiety that prevents them from going to the dentist. 
  • Low pain threshold. The sedation helps numb the pain sensation in the body. 
  • Kids who are unable to remain still in the chair. 
  • Kids and adults who have very sensitive teeth.
  • Bad gag reflex. Some people have an overly sensitive gag reflex that can be triggered by things such as anxiety, postnasal drip, or acid reflux.
  • If an individual has to undergo a large amount of dental work done. 

For children specifically, sedation is a great option when they won’t or are unable to cooperate during their visit. For this, many pediatric dentists use nitrous oxide or oral sedation.

Benefits of Dental Sedation

Dental sedation is the best way to make your next dental appointment more pleasant. If you’re nervous and worried about the dental procedure, read these benefits of dental sedation:

  • Anxiety Relief – One of the most positive aspects of sedation dentistry is the relief of anxiety. With the help of sedation dentistry, patients are at ease and dentists are more comfortable going through their procedures. 
  • Reduction in Gag Reflex – Sedation dentistry works best for people who are sensitive by nature. If you have a sensitive gag reflex or sensitive teeth and gums, sedation dentistry will help you relax, reduce discomfort, and minimize your gag reflex during your appointment. 
  • Pain Relief – Most dental procedures involve painful processes, but with the help of sedation dentistry, the pain is completely removed. Under the influence of sedatives and anesthesia, our brains can’t register the pain. 
  • Procedures Go Faster – Making the procedure go much faster is another great benefit of sedation dentistry. When a patient is given sedatives, he or she will be able to relax. That helps dentists to concentrate on the work and speed up the procedures. 
  • Multiple Procedures Can Be Done at One Time – Sedation dentistry not only speeds up the procedure but also helps the dentist to undertake multiple procedures in one visit. 
  • Comfort and Rest – The whole purpose of sedation dentistry is to provide rest and relaxation to the patient during the treatment. For procedures that take a lot of time, it is an excellent alternative to get kids comfortably seated and rested. 
  • Great for Special Needs – Sedatives are great for people who have Sensory Processing Disorders. This type of patient needs special care so dentists can use sedatives to help them stay confident and relaxed during the treatment. 

How Safe is Sedation Dentistry?

Sedatives and anesthesia are drugs that can fluctuate the normal functioning of the body. You should take the drug only from a professional handler. Talking to your dentist about your medical history and the medication you’re currently on is also mandatory. 

Sedation dentistry is safe to use only if the dentist is trained and qualified to administer the type of sedation you will be receiving. Here are some tips to find out if your dentist can administer the use of sedation. 

  • Find out their expertise level. This depends on the number of procedures they have done throughout their career. 
  • See if they give you a form detailing the sedation risks. 
  • Ask: what dose of the sedatives is recommended by the FDA for your age? 
  • Ask questions if you’re not clear about something. You should know everything prior to taking any sedatives or anesthesia. 

How Much Does Dental Sedation Cost?

Sedation dentistry can be expensive but the actual cost depends on the level of sedation and how many dental appointments are necessary to complete the procedure. Dental sedation is charged based on the amount of time it is needed. The exact cost will depend on a number of factors, but here are some general ranges:

  • General Anesthesia – Anesthesia is rarely needed because anesthesia is given through the mouth. The dental procedure starts only after the tube is removed from the mouth. This makes the restorative process longer. But sometimes it’s still needed for special cases. The cost of general anesthesia is $1200+ per hour. 
  • IV Sedation – IV sedation is used in extreme cases or given to patients who want to completely fall asleep. The cost of IV sedation can range anywhere from $500 to $1000 per hour. $150 – $250 for every 15 minutes and there will be an increment after the first hour.
  • Inhaled Sedation – Nitrous oxide also known as laughing gas is the only form of inhaled sedation dentistry. This gas sedation is easy to use and that’s what makes it inexpensive compared to other sedation. It cost $100 to $150 for the first hour and $25 to $50 increment for every 15 minutes. 
  • Oral Sedation – Most dentists will quote a price based on the amount of work and time needed to complete the treatment needed. This should be discussed at the consultation visit.

FAQs About Dental Sedation

Sedation such as nitrous oxide and pills can be administered and performed by most dentists. But only a few can perform more complex sedation such as deep sedation and general anesthesia. To complete complex sedation, a dentist has to complete CODA (Commission on Dental Accreditation).

Sedation dentistry refers to the use of medication to place the patient into a sedated yet awake state. Whereas, sleep dentistry refers to the use of general anesthesia to put the patient completely to sleep before the procedure begins.

Insurance on dental sedation is covered when the patient has a medical condition or a disability that makes it impossible to receive proper dental care without being sedated.

Yes, absolutely! While there are risks to any medical or dental procedure, Sedation Dentistry has proven to be a safe and very effective adjunct for kids of all ages.

It’s Off to DreamLand

Dental sedation is a common way people conquer anxiety or pain during visits to the dentist. 

Sedation dentistry has transformed dental care for both vulnerable groups and people from all walks of life, including kids. It is an invaluable approach for the affected people to feel more comfortable. 

Instead of putting off your next visit because of anxiety or fear, ask your dentist to schedule your next procedure with dental sedation. Talk to your dentist about your fears and concerns before your appointment for any dental work. Sensation dentistry makes the dental procedure much easier. It not only helps the patients but it also helps the dentist. With the help of dental sedation, dentists are able to finish the procedure faster and with ease. 

If you would like to learn more about sedation dentistry and how it can be beneficial for you and your loved ones, contact us for more information.