What Is Sedation Dentistry?

Sedation dentistry uses medication or nitrous oxide to eliminate pain, reduce anxiety, and enhance relaxation during dental procedures. Also known as “sleep dentistry," this dental service can make drowsy, semi-unconscious, or unconscious. However, most dental procedures are non-invasive and don't involve physical pain. You can experience discomfort and teeth sensitivity during dental care routines like teeth cleaning. In this case, inhaling nitrous oxide can help reduce sensitivity and enhance comfort. Sedation in dentistry also manages anxiety, dentist phobia, and dental fear. Most people avoid visiting the dentist due to dental anxiety fueled by unfounded fears rather than physical pain. If you’re anxious, your Toronto dentist can use sedation to improve your dental experience. 

Here is all you need to know about sedation dentistry and how it can enhance your relaxation, comfort, and experience at the dentist. 

Frequently asked questions

What kind of sedation do dentists use?


There are four levels of sedation: minimal, moderate, deep, and sleep sedation. However, most dental procedures are non-invasive and require minimal sedation to help you relax. Your Toronto dentist can use nitrous oxide (laughing gas) to induce minimal sedation. Nitrous oxide is combined with oxygen and administered through inhalation. So, you wear a mask over your nose and breathe nitrous oxide. This kind of sedation enhances your relaxation and comfort, but you’ll be awake throughout the procedure. You may need moderate or deep sedation for invasive dental treatments, such as bone grafting and wisdom teeth extraction to put you on the edge of consciousness. General anesthesia is also used in sedation dentistry to ensure the patient is unconscious during complex surgical procedures. But most dentistry treatments don’t require this level of sedation.




How long does dental sedation last?


It depends on the level and form of sedation. If you’re undergoing a non-invasive procedure, your Toronto dentist can use laughing gas to induce conscious sedation. The effect of nitrous oxide wears off quickly, so you can drive yourself home after the procedure. Moderate oral sedation can last longer than minimal sedation, but a gentle shake can wake you up. Deep sedation can take a few hours to wear off, while general anesthesia can put you to sleep for several hours or the entire day. The longest-lasting form of sedation may require medication to reverse the anesthesia and awaken the patient.




Can I ask to be sedated at dentist?


Yes, you can! If you’re anxious about the procedure, ask your dentist for minimal sedation to help you feel more comfortable. But first, your dentist will go through your medical history to determine whether you are a good candidate for sedation. They have the right to accept or deny your request based on benefit-risk analysis of factors like age, overall health, and existing prescriptions. If the benefits of sedation outweigh the risks, your request for sedation will be accepted.




Will the dentist put me to sleep if I ask?


Most dental care procedures don’t require unconscious sedation. If you’re getting dental crowns or porcelain veneers, you won’t need to go to sleep. These cosmetic dentistry procedures are not intrusive. So, inducing deep sedation will expose you to unnecessary risks. Remember, dentists are professionals and swore an oath to protect and improve your oral health and overall health and wellbeing. Your dentist can put you to sleep when it is necessary, and the benefits outweigh the risks.




Do you feel pain with oral sedation dentistry?


No, you don’t. Regardless of the sedation your dentist uses local anesthetics to provide pain-free dental treatments. The goal of sedation in dentistry is to help nervous dental patients feel comfortable and relaxed. If you’re undergoing a surgical procedure like bone grafting, sedation will make you feel drowsy and guarantee a stress-free experience. Your dentist can increase the dose if you are too nervous. High doses of oral sedatives can push you to the edges of unconsciousness. You’ll still be awake, but you won’t feel any stress. With sedation dentistry, stress is no longer a valid reason for avoiding the dentist.




How much does sedation dentistry cost?


The cost of sedation dentistry varies depending on the type of sedation used, insurance coverage, length of the procedure, and other factors. Oral sedatives or nitrous oxide are cheaper than deep sedation and general anesthesia. On average, minimal sedation in Canada costs between $200 and $300. But this price tag does not cover dental treatment and essential services. In most cases, your anesthesiologist’s hourly rate will determine the cost of general anesthesia. You may pay more than $1000 if your dental treatment or surgery takes several hours. Sedation dentistry costs are combined with the actual dental work. If your dental insurance plan covers your dental procedure, it will also bear a portion of your sedation cost.




Is sedation at the dentist safe?


Nitrous oxide is the safest type of sedation. Any dentist can induce minimal sedation using nitrous oxide. It is safe for all ages, including children who fear the dentist. In this case, dentists use laughing gas because it is safe for children. The relaxing effects of nitrous oxide eliminate interruptions and allow dentists to perform dental procedures quickly and efficiently. Although other types of sedation are also safe, they require advanced training to measure accurate doses. Oral sedation pills should be administered based on the patient's age and weight with pinpoint accuracy. Deep sedation and general anesthesia also come with risks, particularly for patients with underlying health conditions like sleep apnea. Whether you’re getting minor or major dental work, ensure your dentist goes through your medical records and understands your overall health. To avoid unnecessary risks, seek dental procedures from clinics with qualified and experienced sedation dentistry specialists.





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