Sedation Dentistry

Sedation Dentistry

An estimated 10 percent or more of Americans avoid getting dental care because of their fear of dental procedures, and many other individuals have physical or mental problems related to dental care that can be resolved with the use of sedation. Thousands of patients have been successfully treated while under safe and effective sedation, without pain or anxiety. Oral medications, nitrous oxide, intravenous drugs, and general anesthesia can all be used for sedation dentistry.

Sedation Dentistry Education

Sedation Dentistry Candidates

People who feel anxiety or fear regarding dental procedures, individuals whose uncontrolled movements might hinder their dental care (including children), and people with a mental or physical disability that interferes with their care may be appropriate candidates for sedation dentistry. In addition, being in good health is a primary requirement for sedation dentistry.

How to Choose a Sedation Dentist

When you feel that a sedation dentist is the professional you need, look for a dentist who has training in sedation and is experienced in all forms of sedation dentistry, or has a partnership with a board-certified anesthesiologist for general anesthesia sedation. Pediatric sedation is a special area that merits extra training.

Types of Sedation Dentistry

Sedation dentistry involves the use of medications to help relax patients and lower their anxiety. Many people are familiar with the jitters and nervousness that may accompany a trip to the dentist. In many cases, people simply learn to cope with these feelings. However, some people find it difficult to stay still during their dental visit or might even avoid dental appointments altogether.

Sedation Dentistry Basics

Since there are a limited number of professionals who practice sedation dentistry, the demand for their skills is very high. Before exploring this option, it is important for patients to understand the type of sedation used in these procedures. The following are some of the techniques commonly used in sedation dentistry.

Anti-Anxiety Drugs: Nitrous oxide, also known as ´laughing gas,´ is perhaps the most commonly used type of sedation. This drug typically helps the patient feel more relaxed and at ease, although it does not help with pain management. For this reason, nitrous oxide is generally used in combination with local anesthetics.

Conscious and Deep Sedation: In some cases, something more intensive than anti-anxiety drugs is required. Conscious sedation allows the patient to reach a deeper state of relaxation, although they will remain conscious and responsive. Deep sedation is often used in young children who have extreme difficulty holding still during their dental visit. In this procedure, the patients will experience reduced consciousness and may even need to wear an oxygen mask to aid breathing.

General Anesthesia: The strongest type of sedation is general anesthesia, in which the patient is fully unconscious during the entire procedure. This technique is often used if the patient is undergoing some type of invasive procedure, such as dental surgery.

Sedation Dentistry in Practice

While a great number of people experience some anxiety in the face of a visit to the dentist, many are able to undergo procedures without the use of sedation. The best candidates for sedation dentistry are those who experience a significant amount of anxiety that prevents them from holding still or visiting their dentist regularly. Potential patients should always discuss the procedure with a sedation dentist in order to determine if they are good candidates for this type of dental procedure.

Benefits of Sedation Dentistry

Sedation dentistry involves the use of anesthesia to put patients into a relaxed state during dental procedures. This technique is frequently used when patients will be undergoing long or invasive dental procedure. It is also an ideal solution for patients who experience extreme anxiety during dental visits and have difficulty remaining still, which can include both adults and children.

Reasons to Use Sedation Dentistry

What are some of the potential benefits of sedation dentistry? A dentist will recommend various types of sedation during dental procedures for a number of reasons. The amount of anxiety experienced by the patient as well as the type of procedure that is performed will help determine what type of sedation is used.

Sedation Minimizes Anxiety

One of the greatest benefits of sedation dentistry is that it allows people to relax during their dental visits. For some people, the anxiety caused by a trip to the dentist is enough to cause them to avoid any future dental care visits. This can have a devastating impact on dental and gum health. By helping patients relax during the dental procedure, dentists are able to perform their work without causing undo stress for the patient.

Sedation Reduces Movement

Another major benefit of sedation dentistry is that it helps patients to stay still. This can be especially beneficial for children, who often find it difficult to lie still during a dental visit. In many cases, it is absolutely for the patient to remain completely motionless while the dentist works. For this reason, sedation can be especially useful during long procedures or dental surgeries.

Before choosing this method, patients should always discuss their options with a sedation dentist. A qualified professional will be able to help patients determine if they are good candidates for sedation dentistry, discuss sedation dentistry risks, as well as which type of sedation is right for their needs.


Sedation dentistry is a technique that utilizes anesthetics to help patients relax during their dental visit. This can help people with dental phobias and anxieties have a better experience during most dental procedures. This technique can be especially useful with children who are afraid of the dentist or have a difficult time remaining still during a dental exam. Medications to control pain and anxiety have been in use since the early years of the profession, but recent developments allow dentist more control that ever before.

As with any type of medical procedure, there are risks associated with sedation. A qualified sedation dentist will understand these risks and take steps to minimize any possible dangers to patients. All potential patients are carefully screened in order to determine if they are good candidates for sedation.

Potential Risks of Sedation Dentistry

According to the American Dental Association, treatment by a skilled and trained sedation professional has a record of minimal patient risk. The Association of Pediatric Dentistry states that the risks associated with general anesthesia for dentistry are similar to those posed by the use of general anesthesia in surgery, a mortality rate of one in every 250,000. However, when performed by a skill and well trained professional and when all precautions and procedures are followed, sedation dentistry has a strong record of safety.

Minimizing Risks

The American Dental Association recommends a number of safety procedures that dentists should follow in order to minimize patient risk, including the following:

  • Dentists should only use techniques, methods and medications that they are trained and experience with.
  • Dentists should understand how anesthetic medications work as well as the potential side effects.
  • Dentist should have emergency equipments on hand and practice emergency procedures.
  • All sedation candidates should be carefully screened in order to identify risk factors and potential complications.

Dentists who are qualified to provide sedation have extensive training in administering anesthetics and perform both graduate and post-graduate work in the area of sedation. In order to ensure safety, patients should always carefully research the credentials and qualifications of a dentist before having any procedures performed. Check online registries as well as county, state and national listings to learn more about the qualifications of an individual dentist.