Sedation Dentistry – No More Fear!

· 4 min read

A woman under sedation at the dentist

Does the thought of having to sit in the dentist’s chair seem like a terrible punishment? Would you rather go through the constant pain of a toothache than step inside a dentist’s office?

If so, you’re not alone. Many people are so afraid of going to the dentist that they prefer not to have any treatment, in the hope it will all just fade away.

For people who fear the dentist, sedation dentistry may take away some of their anxiety.

Sedation can be used for everything, from invasive procedures to simple teeth cleaning. How it’s used depends on the severity of the problem or fear.

What Is Sedation Dentistry?

Sedation dentistry uses medication given as a pill and/or intravenously to help patients relax during dental procedures.

We’ll talk about techniques used for sedation shortly, but in general, sedation comes in a few distinct “levels:”

Anxiolysis

Nitrous oxide, often called laughing gas isn’t technically sedation although it does help reduce anxiety so is considered anxiolysis. A lot of people compare it to having a couple glasses of wine etc. This is great for people that want to just take the edge off. It is the only level of “sedation” that you can drive yourself home after the appointment. The effects dissipate immediately.

Minimal Sedation

The next level of sedation is minimal sedation which is 1 oral medication combined with nitrous oxide/laughing gas. You will likely be awake but will be nice and calm during the appointment. You will need to have a ride to come with you and take you home but is a great option for those patients that need a little extra sedative bump than nitrous can offer alone.

Moderate Sedation/IV Sedation

This is the level of sedation most sedation dentistry is done at. A combination of oral and IV medication is given to get you to a hazy, dreamlike state. At this level of sedation, you are conscious and able to follow commands and breathe on your own but most people are in and out of sleep and will remember very little if anything about the appointment.

Deep and General Anesthesia

This is done by an anesthesiologist that comes directly to our office. You are completely unconscious during the appointment.

What Types of Sedation Are Used in Dentistry?

The following sedation techniques are commonly used in dentistry:

Inhaled Sedation

You breathe nitrous oxide, also known as “laughing gas,” combined with oxygen through a mask that’s placed over your nose. The amount of sedation you receive can be controlled by your dentist, and the effects wear off quickly.

Typically, this falls under the minimal to moderate range of sedation and keeps you aware, but relaxed.

This is the only form of sedation where you may be able to drive yourself home after the procedure. This, of course, will need to be discussed with your doctor.

Oral Sedation

Depending on the total dose given, oral sedation can range from minimal to moderate.

For minimal sedation, you may take a pill, usually about an hour before the procedure. The pill will make you drowsy, although you’ll still be awake.

A larger dose may be given to produce moderate sedation.

IV Sedation

Used for moderate sedation and higher levels, this method involves administering sedatives through a vein, so it takes effect almost instantly. This immediacy allows the dentist to adjust your level of sedation much safer and more efficiently than oral sedation alone.

Deep Sedation and General Anesthesia

You will receive medications that will make you either almost unconscious or totally unconscious. You will be deeply asleep during the procedure. While you are under general anesthesia, you cannot easily be woken until the effects wear off or are reversed with medication.

Regardless of which type of sedation you receive, you’ll also typically need a local anesthetic where the dentist is working to relieve any discomfort from the procedure.

At Crafted Dentistry, we can offer all levels of sedation

We offer several options for sedation dentistry based on your needs, and always work with you to make sure it’s safe and comfortable.

As a bonus, sedation dentistry also lets us complete your procedure quicker, and with fewer appointments! So relax and let us guide you to a better dental experience.

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Dr. Eric Satterlee is proud to serve patients in Fort Mill, Rock Hill, Tega Cay, and surrounding communities.

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