What is Sedation Dentistry?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

If you’re terrified of visiting a dentist, or if you have trouble with pain during dental visits, you may want to consider sedation dentistry. This type of dentistry is performed on people for a variety of reasons. They are given different medication that can promote mild to deep relaxation and sleepiness during a dental visit.

Sedation can be used with patients who have extreme anxieties about dental procedures.
Sedation can be used with patients who have extreme anxieties about dental procedures.

Some people take a light tranquilizer like a benzodiazepine before a dentist visit, which is the mildest form of sedation dentistry. This may help calm nerves and make people more comfortable seeing a dentist. Others may need other medications that make them less conscious of any dental work being performed.

Sedation dentistry may be a good option for someone who has apprehension about the dentist office.
Sedation dentistry may be a good option for someone who has apprehension about the dentist office.

There is a difference between sedation dentistry of more aggressive forms, and dental work done under general anesthesia. When you’re given general anesthesia, you may need help and support breathing, and this method can be restricted to certain types of oral surgeries. There are plenty of in between types of medication that can be swallowed, inhaled or injected intravenously. These don’t cause the deep sleep of general anesthesia, but they usually mean you won’t notice much about your dental appointments, and may have little recollection of them.

One benefit of this type of dentistry is ability to have a lot of dental work done in one appointment. If you have numerous fillings or crowns, a few root canals, or anything else major that needs to be done, you can usually have all of this work performed at the same time. This may prove helpful to people who have limited time to take off work for frequent dental visits.

Many people view sedation dentistry as an excellent way of getting appropriate oral care without having to be tense, nervous or in pain during dental visits. Another group of people that may benefit from this form of dentistry are those that have conditions that cause sudden movements or inability to control movements. There are even some pediatric dentists who specialize in sedation dentistry, though some medical professionals call into question the use of sedation in especially young children, if not absolutely necessary.

To ensure safety, you should work with dentists who are trained in the various methods of sedation dentistry. You’ll also need a little extra support for your appointment. Since you will take or inhale medications that will leave you very calm and sometimes sleepy, you cannot drive yourself to and from these visits. You’ll need a reliable friend or family member to pick you up and to listen to any instructions given by the dentist after the procedure because you may not remember them.

Due to the various types of sedation dentistry, you’ll want to discuss these types with a trained dentist. You may have x-rays before you undergo actual procedures, and you may need to give information about medical history and any current medications you take or conditions you have. You can usually expect to have an initial visit with the dentist before he schedules any types of procedures that involve sedation.

Most forms of this dentistry, especially when sedation occurs in the office are not covered by dental insurance. Your insurance may pay for actual procedures like fillings, but may not cover additional medications you are prescribed or that are administered to you when you are undergoing the procedures. Check with your insurance company about their coverage, and you can also check with available sedation dentists to see if they offer payment plans.

X-rays are sometimes required before undergoing dental procedures.
X-rays are sometimes required before undergoing dental procedures.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments

anon342598

I think I would way rather have sedation dentistry than just the regular kind. Put me out of my misery!

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