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Sedation Dentistry

Sedation Dentistry is used to provide a relaxing and anxiety-free experience for certain people receiving dental treatment. It enables individuals too afraid to go to the dentist to receive the dental care they need while avoiding the common apprehension known as dental phobia.

According to the Dental Organization for Conscious Sedation (DOCS Education), a professional dental organization dedicated to ensuring that patients receive safe, comfortable and anxiety-free dental care, 30 percent of the population avoids the dentist due to fear. This all-too-common “dental phobia” prevents people from receiving necessary routine dental care, potentially compromising the health and functionality of their mouth and smile.


What Is Sedation?

Sedation is a process used to establish a relaxed, easy and calm state through the use of sedatives. Oral Sedation Dentistry is now the most common technique used in the United States to quell patient fears. The technique is easy and requires no needles. Best of all, the medications create such a comfortable experience that most patients do not remember the visit; it is as if they slept through the treatment. In reality, oral Sedation Dentistry maintains a level of consciousness in the patient for safety and cooperation. To learn more, visit Note that sedation is different from anesthetic injections.

Although some forms of sedation (such as nitrous oxide gas) may raise your threshold for pain, most dental treatments still require a local anesthetic injected in the mouth, even when sedation dentistry techniques are performed.

This local anesthetic will temporarily block pain impulses from the affected teeth and gum tissue. However, this injection will occur after you are already sedated and comfortable, so most likely you won't be bothered by or remember the sensation of having the injection.

Regardless of the type of Sedation Dentistry you receive, it is important to have a responsible caregiver accompany you to the procedure (and drive you there if you must take oral medication before arriving for your appointment). The caregiver must also drive you home after the procedure is complete and stay with you for an additional two to four hours at home.


Benefits of Sedation Dentistry

One of the major benefits of Sedation Dentistry is that people often feel like their dental procedure lasts only a few minutes, when in fact it might have taken hours to perform. Therefore, complex dental procedures such as ‘smile makeovers’ or extensive rebuilding procedures that normally require multiple visits can often be performed in fewer appointments.

If you are reluctant to change the appearance of your smile because you are afraid or anxious about undergoing long or complicated dental procedures, Sedation Dentistry can make you feel comfortable during the treatment process and help you achieve a smile you can be proud of.

Also, because Sedation Dentistry addresses some of the fears that keep people from going to the dentist on a regular basis, Sedation Dentistry patients are more likely to receive recommended routine care. As a result, they are less likely to neglect their oral health or allow oral health problems to build to the point when drastic dental treatments become necessary.


Sleep Dentistry or Sedation Dentistry?

Sedation Dentistry has occasionally been dubbed ‘sleep dentistry’, but this term is misleading. In actual fact, most patients do not sleep during the procedure, but because of the effects produced by the sedative, you may feel sleepy. With this said a large number of our patients do sleep on and off during the procedure.

Sedation Dentistry enables you to be kept awake throughout the entire procedure, but you will feel relaxed and likely won’t remember much about your treatment. The use of general anesthesia is not considered sedation dentistry.


Am I a good candidate for Sedation Dentistry?

Sedation Dentistry is especially useful for patients who:

  • Have high anxiety about dental visits

  • Have had traumatic dental experiences in the past

  • Have difficulty getting numb

  • Have a strong gag reflex

  • Are afraid of needles

  • Have sensitive teeth

  • Hate the noises and/or smells associated with dental care

  • Simply do not have the time for multiple visits

What to expect at a Sedation Dentistry appointment:

Although dosing regiments are different for all patients depending on different levels of anxiety, age, weight, medical history etc, most patients will normally take three small pills approximately 1 hour prior to arriving at our office on an empty stomach.  It is imperative that you have a reliable companion drive you to the office since you will not be able to drive yourself.  By the time you arrive at the office, most patients will feel drowsy.  You will not be unconscious and will be able to respond when spoken to.  It is quite normal at this stage of sedation that some patients are not aware of the level of sedation that they are in fact experiencing.  Once you are brought back to the operatory one of our trained staff will go over with the doctor your level of sedation.  If necessary additional medications will be administered to achieve the optimal level of sedation for your specific appointment.


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