Sedation Dentistry


Does the thought of visiting the dentist make your whole body tense with fear?  Would you rather endure the agony of dental pain than step one foot into the dentist’s office? You’re not alone! A lot of people are so phobic about going to the dentist that they would prefer not have any treatments.

For people who avoid dentists like the plague, sedation dentistry may take away the anxiety!  Sedation can be used for everything from simple teeth cleaning to invasive procedures.  How it’s used depends upon the severity of the fear.

What is Sedation Dentistry?

Sedation dentistry uses medication to help patients relax during the dental procedures. It is sometimes known as “sleep dentistry,” although that’s not entirely accurate. Patients are usually awake with the exception of those who are under general anesthesia.

The levels of sedation used include:

  • Minimal sedation – your are awake but relaxed.
  • Moderate sedation – you may slur your words and not remember much of the procedure.
  • Deep sedation – you are on the edge of consciousness but can still be awakened.
  • General anesthesia – you are completely unconscious.

What Types of Sedation Are Used in Dentistry?

The following types of sedation are used in dentistry:

  • Inhaled Minimal Sedation – you breathe nitrous oxide — otherwise known as “laughing gas” combined with oxygen through a mask placed over your nose. The gas helps you relax. The dentist regulates the amount of sedation your receive, and the sedation tends to wear off quickly.  This is the only form of sedation whereby you may be able to drive yourself home after the office visit.
  • Oral Sedation – depending upon the total dose given, oral sedation can range from minimal to moderate. For minimal sedation, your take a pill and it’s usually taken about an hour before the procedure. The pill will make you drowsy although you’ll still be awake. A larger dose can actually encourage sleep and be awakened with a gentle shake.
  • IV Moderate Sedation – you receive a sedative drug through the vein, so it goes through more quickly.  This method allows the dentist to continually adjust the level of sedation.
  • Deep Sedation and General Anesthesia –  you will get medications that will make you either almost unconscious or totally unconscious — deeply asleep — during the procedure. While you are under general anesthesia, you cannot be easily awakened until the effects of the anesthesia wear off or are reversed with medication.

Consult with a dentist to discuss any anxieties you may have and which dental comfort practices are best for you.  Many of these topics are covered in the Creative Excellence free dental health classes held each week for the general public.  Call to register for a class to engage in dialog with Dr. William “Bill” Holderbaum at 719-528-8282.