The Complete Guide to Sedation Dentistry

Answers to Your Questions About Sleep Dentistry

If you are nervous about going to a dentist, especially when you know a tooth needs to be pulled – or for any treatment, sedation dentistry may be just what you need. Sedation dentistry helps you to relax while you are in the dentist's chair and being treated. Instead of panicking, you can be calm – and awake.


What is sedation dentistry?

Sedation dentistry, which also goes by the name of sleep dentistry or twilight dentistry, is a method of relaxing a patient while undergoing a dental procedure. Many patients greatly fear the dentist's chair – so much so, that they are willing rather to endure a lot of pain and ignore even necessary treatment.


Various medications are available to help patients relax with anesthesia, but they are not given enough to render them unconscious. The different medications used will depend on the amount of anxiety. It may also just mean that you are given an extra dose of the anesthesia.


Who can go for sedation dentistry?

Since there are different types of sedation dentistry, the dentist will decide on the best kind, depending on the patient's needs. If a patient is afraid of needles, for instance, the dentist would not want to recommend IV sedation dentistry. The very thought of it for such a person would likely cause more fear than the treatment would.


People who would be the most likely candidates come under different categories. They might include people who have:


  • Had a bad dental experience in the past

  • A resistance to local anesthetics

  • Especially sensitive nerves in the mouth

  • A phobia about dental procedures

  • General anxiety disorder.


Sedation dental care can be given for any type of dental care, but it is not usually used for ordinary procedures such as teeth cleaning. In some cases, however, it may be applied as needed.



Patients who have medical problems or mental conditions may need to get a clearance from their doctor before undergoing twilight dentistry. Problems that may require it include people with hypertension, cardiac disease, respiratory diseases, and diabetes.


What can you expect from sedation dentistry?

When the dentist administers a medication to help you relax, you will still be awake and know what is going on around you. The strength, or dose, of the gas or medication will determine how anxious or alert you are. In general, you will be conscious and still able to respond to the dentist.

Even though the medication will make you very relaxed, you will still be given some local anesthetic. By that time, you will be very relaxed and are not apt to be bothered about it at all. Besides that, the medication will cause you not to remember it anyway.


While you are sedated, the dentist and staff will watch your vital signs. They will monitor your pulse, blood pressure, your respiratory rates and your oxygen saturation level.


Different types of sedation used

There are several types of sedation that are commonly used. General sedation, which means being totally unconscious is not considered a part of sedation dentistry, but it may also be available for some treatments. The three types include:


  • Nitrous oxide – This gas is also called "laughing gas" and it is administered through a mask over the nose. Once the treatment is completed, you will be given pure oxygen which will bring you out of the relaxation state quickly – and you will probably even be able to drive home.


  • Oral sedation – This method provides a pill to enable patients to relax. No needles are necessary to be comfortable, but local injections are still likely to be used. The pill most commonly used is Halcion, and it can produce a minimal to moderate level of sedation. It is given about an hour in advance of treatment.


  • IV sedation – This method of relaxing patients is quick because it is given directly into a vein. It can also be adjusted easily as needed by the dentist at any time during the procedure. It will enable a deeper level of sedation. Coming back to normal levels of consciousness will take some time.


Is sedation dentistry safe?

Sedation dentistry is considered safe, but there are some precautions. An important concern is that the dentist needs to be aware of any prescriptions and supplements that you are taking in advance. Interactions between the anesthesia and other medicines and supplements could have serious side effects if the dentist is not aware of them.


Dentists are trained to use certain types of medications for sedation. Each type requires different training, so it may be rather common for a dentist to bring in another doctor or dentist who is trained to monitor the patient.


Cost of sedation dentistry

When you choose to get sedation dentistry, it will cost more than traditional local anesthesia. If you choose intravenous sedation, the cost will range from $290 to $340 for 30 minutes. After that, it will cost an additional $100 for every 15 minutes. Other types of sedation will cost around $175.

If you live in the Carrollton, TX or Grapevine, TX areas, you can get sedation dentistry from Dr. Kumar T. Vadivel, DDS, FDS RCS, MS, a Board-certified Periodontist. He offers painless dentistry and many other dental services. For more information about his services, or to set up an appointment, you can call his office at (817) 756-8578.

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