What Is Sedation Dentistry?

What Is Sedation Dentistry?

Does the thought of visiting the dentist for tooth cleaning make you tense and anxious? Would you rather endure the pain of a toothache than visit the dentist? Dental anxiety is more common than you’d think. Luckily there are options to help those who struggle with this fear: sedation dentistry.

Sedation in dentistry can be used for anything from a straightforward tooth cleaning to more complex treatments. There are many different levels and types of sedation like laughing gas (nitrous oxide) or general anesthesia.  The sedation options are all unique, but they can all help an anxious patient relax and have a positive dental experience.


Sedation Dentistry, What Is It?

Sedation dentistry aids anxious patients by using drugs to relax during dental procedures. Although not entirely accurate, it is also called “sleep dentistry.”  Unless the patient chooses general anesthesia, they will be awake for the procedure.

There are a number of sedation levels:

  • Minimal sedation - Usually the patient is very relaxed and awake.

  • Moderate sedation - Formerly known as conscious sedation. The patient may have slurred speech and may not remember a lot of the procedure.

  • Deep sedation - Most often the patient is barely conscious but can still wake up.

  • General anesthesia - Here the patient is entirely unconscious.


What Are the Types of Sedation Used?


Oral Sedation

Oral sedation can range from minimal to moderate, contingent on the dosage. Halcion is commonly used for minimal sedation and is usually taken one hour before the procedure.  The drug makes you sleepy, but you are still conscious. For moderate sedation, the dentist will administer a larger dose of Halcion.

This type is popular with dentists and can cause intense grogginess—you can even sleep through the procedure. However, the dentist can wake you up by shaking you gently.


Inhaled Minimal Sedation

For this type of sedation, you breathe in nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas. It is administered through a mask over your nose that you will wear throughout the procedure.  The nitrous oxide is mixed with oxygen and will help you relax. This form of sedation wears off quickly and is the only sedation type where you can drive yourself home after treatment.


Deep Sedation and General Anesthesia

With general anesthesia or deep sedation, the dentist administers drugs that make you close to unconscious or altogether unconscious. Total unconsciousness is synonymous with deep sleep. The dentist cannot wake you up quickly when under this type of sedation. They will have to use medication to reverse the sedative effects or wait for the effects to wear off.


IV Moderate Sedation

In IV moderate sedation, the sedative is administered through the veins. It tends to take effect more quickly than other types of sedation. The doctor can continuously adjust the level of the sedative. 

However, you will still need a local anesthetic at the procedure area to relieve any pain or discomfort from the procedure.

To find out which sedation options we offer at Jonny Fisher DDS, call us at (509) 383-8300 to reach our office in Pullman, Washington.

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