What is Sedation Dentistry?

woman dentist

While it’s common for people to have a little bit of anxiety when coming in for a dental checkup, some people have such intense fear that it has reached phobia status. It’s estimated that half of the adult population in the US have an intense fear of the dentist. Thankfully, there’s a way to ease the anxiety of your dental visit while making sure you’re getting the professional care you need. It’s called sedation dentistry.

woman dentistSedation dentistry involves the use of sedatives to help you relax during a dental procedure and alleviate the anxiety and stress that so many people feel. It’s sometimes called “sleep dentistry” even though you’re not always so heavily sedated that you fall asleep during the process. The amount of medication that the dentist uses can vary during more intense oral surgery or even during a routine cleaning. Here are the general levels of sedation:

  • Minimal sedation — Nitrous oxide (laughing gas) is the most common type of sedation administered through a mask placed over your nose. You typically stay awake during the procedure, and the gas simply helps you relax. Most of the time, you can even drive yourself home after a procedure that uses this kind of sedation.
  • Moderate sedation — This kind of sedation is usually delivered in pill form. At this level, you can become groggy enough to actually fall asleep during the procedure, but can be awakened easily. Sometimes, an IV is used to help the sedative take effect more quickly.
  • Deep sedation and general anesthesia — This is the type of anesthesia that’s usually used for more intensive procedures, such as dental implants. For this level of sedation, you will be admitted into a hospital or surgery center and will be completely unconscious throughout the procedure.

While sedation dentistry has the benefit of making your dental visits easier to handle, it can also help your dentist perform longer procedures without the discomfort of straining to hold your mouth open for long periods of time. As a result, more is accomplished in one visit and you’ll have fewer overall visits to the dentist. If you’d like to learn more about how sedation dentistry can help you, talk to us today!