Everything About Sedation Dentistry You Need To Know  | Kirkland Premier Dentistry
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Everything About Sedation Dentistry You Need To Know 

January 5, 2023

A large number of people delay dental appointments and visits because the mere thought of a dentist’s chair makes them jittery. Anxiety surrounding dental check-ups and treatments is a major obstacle enroute good oral health. Advanced sedation dentistry is a cure for all the fears surrounding dental treatments. You no longer need to spend nights awake with a toothache. A good dentist can evaluate the need for sedation and will provide it not only for invasive procedures but even for simple treatments like cleaning when required.


An overview of sedation dentistry

Sedatives (medicines) are used to help patients overcome anxiety as they fall into relaxation. Some people call it sleep dentistry but that is a misnomer. Most patients are awake during the dental procedures. Only those administered general anesthesia stay unconscious during this procedure.

Based on a patient’s anxiety levels and the type of procedure, different levels of sedation may be used –

  •  Minimal sedation simply relaxes a patient while a patient is fully awake
  •  Moderate sedation will keep you awake but you won’t remember the procedure and your speech will be slurred while under the effect of sedation
  •  Deep sedation is used where a patient can be awakened but is on the edge of consciousness
  •  General anesthesia makes one unconscious

What types of sedation are used for Dentistry?

Advanced sedation dentistry has made it possible to use Sedation through different modes safely for the suitable candidates. Along with these, local anesthesia is also used at the treatment site for the numbing action so that the patient does not feel any discomfort. These are the sedation types used for dentistry-

  • Inhaled sedation for dentistry- this falls in the category of minimal sedation. A patient breathes in nitrous oxide which is also called laughing gas. This is administered via a mask which supplies nitrous oxide mixed with oxygen. An experienced dentist will control the amount of sedation a person receives. This gas relaxes a patient and wears off quickly.
  • Oral sedation for dentistry- this category can range from minimal to moderate levels of sedation. A pill is given for minimal sedation around half an hour before the procedure. Most commonly, Halcion is the pill given. You will be awake during the procedure with some level of drowsiness. When moderate sedation is required, a larger dose of the drug will be given. This is the most common type of sedation used for dentistry. Patient response can vary from being groggy to actually falling asleep. A gentle shake or a nudge will suffice to awaken the patient.
  • IV sedation for dentistry- this is used for moderate sedation. This is given via a vein as the name suggests. IV stands for the intravenous route. The administration of a drug through this route elicits a much faster response. A dentist can adjust the level of sedation throughout the procedure.
  • Deep Sedation and GA (general anesthesia)- medicines are available for making a patient completely unconscious or almost unconscious (on the edge of consciousness). The patient will be in deep sleep throughout the process and will only wake up when the effects of anesthesia wear off. Medications can also be used to reverse the effects of anesthesia.

About Pediatric sedation dentistry- your experienced dentist will use safe sedatives to calm down the child. The child will not be fast asleep. This is especially used for long or complex procedures. This can be used for every child including those with special needs, high levels of anxiety and fear, or those who are unable to sit still. You will be given instructions to follow at home before the visit and after the visit till the anesthesia wears off. Special instructions, a day before your child’s treatment, regarding when to stop eating, what type of foods to eat, etc, will be provided to you over a call.



What to expect with advanced sedation dentistry?

Before starting the procedure, your dentist evaluates your needs for sedation, goes over your medical history to ascertain the safety of sedation and the type of sedation suitable for you, and asks about the medicines and supplements you are on.

You will be advised to avoid eating any food or drinking before at least six hours. The instructions may vary a little for children. You will be taking your routine medicines normally unless you are told differently. You will be told to stop blood thinners a few days before the procedure after consultation with your medical practitioner.

During the process

After ascertaining the suitability of a particular type of sedation, you will be given sedative medicines before beginning the procedure. You will also be given local anesthesia to numb the site of treatment.

After the sedation dentistry

If you received nitrous oxide, in most cases you will be able to drive home on your own. In the rest of the cases, a friend or a family member needs to accompany you and drive you home. You are told to rest till the anesthesia completely wears off.

The instructions regarding when to eat, what to eat, which medicines to take, and how to maintain oral hygiene will depend on the procedure you underwent. Always follow the instructions given by your dentist.

Except for nitrous oxide, people who receive other forms of sedation will recover in 24 hours.


What is the safest dental sedation?

This always depends on the medical history of a patient and will vary for each one. Laughing gas or nitrous oxide is safest but is suitable only for minimally invasive procedures. For invasive dentistry procedures, IV sedation is considered safe as the level of sedation can be controlled throughout the treatment. The outcomes are predictable and there is no waiting time involved. When you visit an expert dentist in Kirkland, they will ensure that the anesthesia used for a particular procedure is safe for that patient.

More on safety of dental sedation

When the dentist is experienced and knowledgeable, they go over the patient history and choose the safest option. Some people who are morbidly obese or have obstructive sleep apnea can develop complications so they should always discuss it with their dentist and health provider. You should always choose a clinical set up with adequate facilities. Never hide your medical history. Always inform your dentist about any allergies, and medicines or supplements you are taking.


Who can go for sedation dentistry?

Sedation is usually advised for people undergoing dental treatment when

  •     There is a lot of anxiety
  •     There is fear surrounding dental treatments
  •     Patient has an exaggerated gag reflex
  •     There is extreme pain and sensitivity
  •     A patient is claustrophobic and is distressed when sitting in the dental chair
  •     A patient is less responsive to local anesthesia
  •     The adult or child is a special needs individual
  •     There may be a need to carry out multiple dental procedures
  •     When the patient’s threshold for pain is low


 How long does teeth sedation last?

The effect of dental sedation starts wearing off after 30 minutes or so. There will be some lingering effect for a few hours afterwards causing one to feel lightheaded and drowsy. It is important to have someone accompany you to the dental clinic and to drive you home after the procedure.

It is important to note that a patient must not eat or drink for a minimum of six hours before dental sedation. An empty stomach prevents the regurgitation of food which can otherwise cause obstruction and choking.


Sedation Dentistry has advanced and the side effects have become more uncommon.

Short term issues which can occur – 

  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Drowsiness that lingers
  • Headaches
  • Bruising at the site of IV line

Children may be irritable, may have nausea or vomiting or may sleep more after sedation. Sometimes there may be a mild fever.

If there is high fever, any abnormal symptom, severe pain, or when general symptoms don’t get better after 24 hours, reach out to your dentist.

Remember, that only an expert can safely administer sedation for dentistry. Contact Kirkland Premier Dentistry for advanced treatments using sedation for successful outcomes. 


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