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Sedation Dentistry


Sedation dentistry is becoming more and more popular for those who are afraid of receiving dental treatment. The term sedation is used due to the medications, or sedatives, that are given to the patient to help them sleep while receiving dental care.

Sedation dentistry is a great tool for dentists who have patients that need dental treatment, but have too many fears, anxieties and phobias about dentistry. It provides a relaxing and anxiety-free experience for both patient and dentist. Sedation dentistry is oftentimes referred to or known as ‘sleep dentistry.’ However, it’s important to know that patients do not sleep while on the sedatives. They are aware of what’s happening, but are relaxed and care-free about the situation. They are able to cooperate if cooperation is needed by the dentist and dental assistants.

Types of Sedation Dentistry

In the past, the most popular way to sedate a patient was through intravenous (IV) sedation. This method involves injecting the sedatives into the bloodstream via a needle or syringe. These days, sedatives are being used in many types of ways. The main sedative drugs used include:

  • Depressants
  • Anti-anxiety medications
  • Nitrous oxide
  • Tranquillizers

These sedatives can be administered orally, either in pill form or through inhalation methods. In most cases, needles are eliminated from the procedure unless the patient doesn’t mind.

Benefits of Sedation Dentistry

The most popular benefit that people receive from using sedation dentistry is the fact that they were so relaxed during the procedure, they barely remember anything. This isn’t to say the patient wasn’t awake. Actually, oral sedation dentistry ensures the patient is awake enough to cooperate if needed. Time flies while a patient is under sedation. In fact, many claim the procedure lasted only a few minutes, when in actuality it lasted a few hours. Complex dental procedures such as reconstruction of the mouth can be performed in fewer visits when the patient is able to handle hours of dental work at once.

Another major benefit to sedation dentistry is that is helps people address dental fears, anxieties and phobias, and allows them to receive dental care on a regular basis. As a result of this, people receiving sedation dentistry are less likely to neglect basic oral health care or allow oral health problems to persist before it gets out of hand.

Sedation Dentistry Costs

Unfortunately, most dental insurance plans do not cover sedation dentistry. However, some non-intravenous sedation procedure codes may apply to your treatment. Be sure to check with your insurance provider about the details. Costs vary due to other factors such as the sedation dentist, type of treatment received, type of sedation received. Light sedation (nitrous oxide, oral sedatives) usually costs in between $200-$300. It’s important to remember that this only includes the sedation and not the dental treatment. General anesthesia or IV sedation is less expensive, costing around $100-$300.

Choosing a Sedation Dentist

The first thing you can do when choosing a sedation dentist is to talk with your regular dentist. He or she may be qualified to apply different sedation techniques to you. The ADA and most dental state boards require dentists to be trained in sedative techniques, equipment, medications and medical history analysis. Dental staff is also trained in these same techniques. Talking with your dentist about your dental fears can immediately open up a healthy, trusting relationship between the two of you. This too, is important if a patient is fearful of dentistry. If you are unhappy with your current dentist, maybe it’s time for you to make a change.

Please feel free to read our guide on how to find and choose a dentist.

Page updated September 2012



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