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What is Sedation Dentistry?

By HERWriter
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For many people terrified of having any sort of dental work done by a dentist or dental specialist, the option of sedation dentistry provides profound relief.

Now those who have been putting off dental treatment because of anxiety or fear can have their treatment completed without worry.

Many dental practices now offer sedation dentistry, though not all dental offices provide all sedation methods.

The purpose of sedation is to relax a patient so he/she is comfortable with the treatment being carried out. Depending on the method and type of medication administered, patients may fall into a light sleep. In general, patients have these three options:

1) Inhalation sedation: This involves a mask that is placed over the mouth and nose. This mask is attached to a hose that will administer nitrous oxide, an odorless, colorless gas--also known as "laughing gas." Nitrous has the advantage of wearing off quickly, having few side effects, and being safe for use by pregnant women and those with other medical conditions that may contraindicate use of other sedation methods. The other advantage is that the amount of nitrous being administered can be adjusted mid-procedure by the dentist.

2) Oral sedation: This involves taking an oral sedative such as Valium about one hour prior to the appointment. Some sedatives do have a history of negative side effects. There is also the possibility that the medication will wear off mid-procedure and there is no way for the patient to take more if needed. Oral sedatives are also not safe for all patients.

3) IV (intravenous) sedation: This may not be a good option for those with a needle-phobia, but IV sedation is becoming very popular amongst dental patients. IV sedation allows dentists to complete very simple and very complicated dental treatments. A sedation medication is administered through an intravenous line (IV), usually established in the back of the hand with a small needle. The amount of medication administered is determined by your height and weight, and can be re-administered if necessary during the surgery. Depending on the type of drug used, IV sedation is a treatment option for pregnant women.

Add a Comment7 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

Thanks for posting this. I was actually just wondering what a sedation dentist was. I've heard about it before, but am unsure of what it is exactly. I think it's great that this is an option for people because of how many there are who are afraid of going to the dentist and it gets in the way of their dental health.
Gary Puntman

June 23, 2014 - 1:38pm

I think IV sedation has its place in dentistry but for patients who truly have a dental phobia they never learn the techniques to have routine treatment without it. Dental phobia can be overcome not many patients are aware of that because the dentists administering the IV sedation are not trained in helping them overcome dental phobia.

January 20, 2013 - 5:16pm
HERWriter Guide

I had 6 teeth removed in one sitting and opted for IV sedation (known as the twilight sleep, where you are half in and half out of consciousness). For me, it knocked me right out and I was happy about it as the thought of the procedure terrified me. Not only the pain, but the noise of the drills make me shiver.

The thought of being totally unaware in a stranger's chair is a bit daunting but more daunting for me, was this surgery. Turns out I also needed a few stitches so it was better for me (and my sanity) to be in la la land :)

June 22, 2009 - 11:10am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Susan Cody)

There are some things you just don't want to be awake for. I'm with you!

Again, it's all to a person's preference, pain and comfort level. There are many things I will opt for just local. The only time I had IV sedation was for my wisdom teeth. Definitely one of those things you don't want to be awake for.

You also have to be confident in the person treating you.

August 2, 2009 - 7:16pm
EmpowHER Guest

I always opt for oral sedation as it feels more comfortable than sleeping in the dentist's chair. Although unlikely, the dentist might omit asking if one is allergic or not to some painkillers. Read the Valium proprieties and side effects before going to the dentist. You don't want to risk being poisoned while your teeth still hurt.

June 22, 2009 - 10:37am
EmpowHER Guest

i am 26 weeks pregnant and cant find an endodontist that will provide iv sedation, numbing shots and pain pills do not work at all and never have. do you know anyone in the houston area that will do it, Carsander84@yahoo.com, i need a root canal asap, i have a nerve exposed in number 14

April 23, 2009 - 9:41pm
HERWriter (reply to Anonymous)

Many dental specialists are reluctant to use any kind of IV sedation during pregnancy. It is really used as a very last resort. There needs to be communication between your dental specialist and your OB/GYN and family physician to effectively examine the risks associated with your particular case.

My advice would be to talk to your OB/GYN or family physician about this and have them coordinate with your dentist and endodontist. There may be an interim treatment that they can do for you that would get you through to the end of your pregnancy and then you can look at having the procedure done. Extraction may also be a possibility, but again you need to coordinate all this potential treatment with your OB/GYN, family physician, general dentist and dental specialist.

April 27, 2009 - 6:15am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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