Is Sedation Dentistry Safe?


Is Sedation Dentistry Safe?

Even routine procedures, such as a filling or a 6-month exam at your family dentist, can bring feelings of anxiety for many people. Fortunately, sedation makes it possible to alleviate dental stress. Sedation dentistry can be safe and effective when a qualified dentist and their team perform it.

There are different levels and types of sedation. Your dentist can review the types they offer with you if you need sedation or want to learn more about your options. They may ask questions about medications you’re taking or about lifestyle choices, such as smoking or drinking.

It’s important to answer these questions as honestly and thoroughly as possible. This way, the dentist can do their best to lower the risk of potential reactions with the chosen sedative.

What Is Sedation Dentistry?

Dentists use dental sedation to keep their patients feeling calm and relaxed. It’s typically only a moderate level of sedation, so you don’t lose consciousness. Sometimes sedation dentistry is referred to as conscious sedation dentistry. It can reduce a person’s pain sensitivity and create short-term forgetfulness without causing the patient to go to sleep.

Is Sedation Dentistry Safe?

Part of the preparation for sedation dentistry involves an in-depth conversation with your dentist regarding potential risks. Generally speaking, sedation dentistry is safe for adults and children when performed by a qualified dentist.

But like any other medical procedure, there could be some minor short-term risks:

  • Feeling sleepy afterward
  • Dry mouth
  • Upset stomach
  • Headache
  • Bruising from the IV (IV sedation)
  • It can be difficult to predict timing (oral medication)

Types of Dental Sedation

A person’s individual needs, the length of the procedure, health history, and personal preference are all factors that determine which type of dental sedation is right for them.

Nitrous Oxide

Many people refer to nitrous oxide as laughing gas. It’s a mild sedative gas mixed with oxygen and administered through a small mask. Typically the dentist instructs you to breathe normally, and you begin feeling the soothing effects within a few minutes.

Although the name may be confusing, “laughing gas” doesn’t actually make you laugh as a primary effect. It works by slowing your nervous system down, making you less inhibited and minimizing or preventing anxiety.

Oral Conscious Sedation

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer for which medication is best for oral conscious sedation. Valium and Halcion are 2 commonly used sedatives. These are typically in pill form and taken around an hour before the procedure. Your dentist may have a midazolam oral syrup that can be used in cases where the patient cannot swallow a pill.

Intravenous (IV) Sedation

IV sedation could be needed when a patient requires the deepest sedation possible. It’s not uncommon for a person under IV sedation to fall asleep and have little to no recollection of the procedure. This form of sedation is often an option for those with high dental anxiety or those undergoing a painful or lengthy procedure.

Once seated in the dental chair, the dentist or another qualified professional typically starts an intravenous line in your arm, and the medication can be administered. Your dentist can monitor your pulse, blood pressure, and breathing throughout the procedure. They can quickly send reversal medications into your body if there are adverse reactions.


Possible Reasons for Sedation Dentistry

There are plenty of reasons that you may want or require dental sedation, but they can mostly be summed up in these reasons:

Dental Anxiety

Dental anxiety isn’t necessarily just being nervous about the dentist. It could be severe enough to prevent someone from going to the dentist. According to the Canadian Dental Association (CDA), up to 22% of people experience severe dental anxiety. Sedation dentistry gives these people a way to comfortably visit the dentist.

To Save an Additional Trip to the Dentist

There are dental procedures that usually require multiple appointments. Typically this isn’t because the dentists can’t complete the procedure in one appointment. But some procedures could be difficult for a patient to handle in one sitting. Sedation dentistry can help relax a person enough that they can sit longer.

Extreme Sensitivity

Extreme sensitivity to dental work could be a good reason for dental sedation. If someone experiences this sensitivity in their teeth and gums, the sedation could improve their dental experience.

Difficulty Sitting Still

Sometimes simply having trouble sitting still could warrant sedation. For example, someone with ADHD could be prone to fidgeting or have difficulty staying in one spot for long periods. So, mild sedation can counteract this and allow the dentist to complete the procedure.

Discuss Sedation Options with Your Dentist

Don’t let worry or anxiety keep you from seeing your dentist. Sedation is a safe and effective way of getting through the appointment comfortably. At Green Grove Dental, we’re pleased to offer the 3 types of dental sedation: laughing gas, oral conscious sedation, and IV sedation.

Contact our team today. We’re happy to answer your questions surrounding dental sedation and anxiety.