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sedation-dentistryIf the thought of having your teeth cleaned makes you tense with fear, or if you’d rather endure the agony of a toothache than step foot in a dentist’s office, you’re not alone. Tons of people are so scared about going to the dentist that they prefer not to have any treatments at all. Teeth be damned.

For people who avoid dentists like it’s the plague, there is sedation dentistry which may take away many anxieties. Sedation is used for everything from invasive procedures to simple tooth cleanings. How it is administered depends on the severity of the fear.

What is Sedation Dentistry

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

The levels of sedation used in dentistry include:

  • Minimal sedation — You 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 woken.
  • 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 that’s placed over your face. This gas helps you relax. Your dentist can control the amount of sedation you receive, and the gas tends to wear off quickly. This is the only form of sedation where you may be able to drive yourself home after the procedure.

  • Oral sedation — Depending on the dose given, oral sedation can range from minimal to moderate. For minimal sedation, you ingest a pill. The pill will make you drowsy, although you’ll still be awake. A larger dose may be given to produce moderate sedation. This is the type of anesthesia most commonly associated with sedation dentistry. Some people become groggy enough from moderate oral sedation to actually fall asleep during the procedure. They usually can, though, be awakened with a gentle shake.

  • IV moderate sedation — You receive the sedative drug through an IV, so it goes to work more quickly. This method allows the dentist to continually adjust the level of sedation.


  • Deep sedation and general anesthesia — You get medications that will make you either almost unconscious or totally unconscious during the procedure. While you are under general anesthesia, you cannot easily be awakened until the effects of the anesthesia wear off or are reversed with medication.


How Safe Is Sedation Dentistry?

There is always a risk in taking anesthesia. It is usually safe when given by experienced dentists. However, some, such as those who are obese or who have sleep apnea, should talk to their doctor before being given sedation. This is because they are more likely to develop complications from the anesthesia.

It’s important to make sure that your dentist is trained and qualified to administer the type of sedation you will be receiving. As a patient, you should make sure the following things are done:

  • Before the procedure, go over your medical history with the dentist. Your dentist should determine whether you are an appropriate candidate for sedation and ask about any medications you’re currently taking.
  • Ask what dose of the sedative is appropriate for your age and health.
  • Find out how much training the dentist has and how many procedures they have performed using sedation.
  • Get a form detailing the risks of the procedure. Go over it carefully with your dentist. Ask questions if unclear on anything.
  • The dentist should monitor your vital signs during the procedure following American Dental Association guidelines. The dentist should also have oxygen and drugs that reverse the effects of sedation on hand in case you need them.

If you are scared of having any procedures and think that sedation dentistry is for you please contact Dr. Max L Lingo, Evansville, Indiana dentist. Let them explain your options. If you feel that you need a dental implant or any other service, contact our office now if you need bonding & filling, cosmetic dentistry, dental implants, dentures & partials, extractions, sedation dentistry, teeth whitening, teeth cleaning, plaque removal and more.