Sedation dentistry makes it easier to receive the dental care you need.

Sedation dentistry allows patients to feel calm and relaxed during their dental treatments — or, in some cases, sleep through them entirely. It can be the key that helps some people get the quality dental care they need, especially people who struggle with severe dental anxiety, a bad gag reflex, or those who need extensive dental work done. Sedation dentistry relies on several methods to create different levels of sedation, allowing you to receive a level of sedation that’s just right for your treatment needs. While this might sound like a no-brainer decision, sedation is a complicated topic with several benefits and drawbacks. It can transform your experience at the dentist, but any type of sedation always comes with a small amount of risk. As a result, it’s important to understand each option and discuss it thoroughly with Dr. Tyler before making a decision. To help you get started, we’ve included a breakdown of the different types of sedation Dr. Tyler offers and what each is most commonly used for.

Level of Sedation

Dentists use several methods to practice sedation dentistry, each of which produces a different level of sedation. These levels are split into mild or minimal, moderate, and deep sedation, with an independent category set for general anesthesia.

Minimal or Mild Sedation

In mild or minimal sedation, you’re relaxed but fully awake, so you’re capable of responding to questions or directions normally. Despite its minimal impact, your judgment may be mildly impaired while the medication is in your system. Minimal sedation is often used to relieve dental anxiety, a low pain tolerance, or a strong gag reflex.

Moderate Sedation

When you’re under a moderate level of sedation, you’re still awake, but you’re less alert. You will likely feel groggy or as if you are in a dreamlike state, and you may even fall asleep during the procedure. With moderate sedation, falling asleep has more to do with how relaxed you feel than it does with the medication directly inducing sleep. Whether or not you fall asleep, however, you’ll still be able to understand and respond to questions and directions from Dr. Tyler. Once the medication has worn off, your memory of the procedure might be foggy or nonexistent. Moderate sedation is often used to help patients who have severe dental anxiety or are about to undergo a longer or more extensive procedure.

Deep Sedation

True to its name, deep sedation creates a deeper level of sedation in which you’re floating along the edge of consciousness and unconsciousness. It might take several tries to wake you up, but Dr. Tyler can still wake you during the procedure if he needs to. Deep sedation is most often used when patients need more extensive dental treatments, especially if they also suffer from severe dental anxiety or special needs that make it difficult to sit in the dental chair for a long time.

General Anesthesia

General anesthesia is the type of sedation performed in hospitals that most people immediately think of when they think about sedation. It puts you into a deep, unconscious state that you can’t be woken up from until the medication wears off. Just like deep sedation, it’s most often used to treat patients who need extensive dental work and suffer from severe dental anxiety, special needs, or other issues that make long dental procedures difficult to sit through. It can also be very helpful for patients with a low pain threshold, as they don’t have to worry about whether or not their procedure is going to hurt.

Types of Sedation

Dr. Tyler offers several different types of sedation to ensure you find a method that fits your needs and allows you to get the care you need as easily and anxiety-free as possible.

Nitrous Oxide

Otherwise known as laughing gas, nitrous oxide is inhaled to create a relaxed, happy state. It creates a minimal level of sedation that takes effect and wears off very quickly, often in less than five minutes. Unlike other sedation methods, this means that most people can drive themselves home after their appointment.

Minimal Oral Sedation

We also offer minimal oral sedation, in which Dr. Tyler prescribes you a single dose of medication to take before your appointment. Generally, you’ll take it an hour before your scheduled appointment to ensure the pill has begun to take effect, but always make sure you follow the specific directions Dr. Tyler gives you when he prescribes the pill to you. While oral sedation can be used to achieve minimal or moderate levels of sedation, we use it to create a minimal level of sedation that helps you relax without putting you to sleep.

IV Sedation

IV sedation can achieve a moderate or deep level of sedation. So instead of putting you to sleep, it puts you into a dream-like state. This not only helps you relax, but you likely won’t remember much — if anything — about the procedure.

General Anesthesia

In some circumstances, Dr. Tyler even offers general anesthesia, which puts you into a deep, unconscious state. It’s like sleeping through the entire procedure, so you won’t remember any of it once you wake up.

Choosing the Right Option

Each type of sedation is effective and has its own uses; if not, dentists wouldn’t use them! If you’ve been wondering, “Is sedation dentistry safe?” the answer gets a little more complex. Any time you undergo sedation, there’s some level of risk involved. This is generally minimal, but the exact risks vary based on several factors, including your overall health.

You might be asking yourself, “OK, so who can have sedation dentistry?” Almost anyone! When necessary, even children can benefit from it. Health conditions like sleep apnea and cardiovascular issues can make sedation slightly riskier than it is for the average person. The type of sedative you’re looking into also impacts the risk. Milder options, like nitrous oxide or oral conscious sedation, for example, generally have less risk than general anesthesia.

Sedation is used very successfully all the time, but it’s important to keep this in mind and to always discuss your options with Dr. Tyler ahead of time. This helps you consider your options from every angle, including from the perspective of Dr. Tyler’s expert advice so you can make the best decision for you. Everyone’s different, so the best option for you could be very different from the best option for someone else!

Is sedation dentistry right for you?

Sedation dentistry isn’t always necessary, but it’s capable of absolutely transforming some people’s experience at the dentist. It can make your treatment process easier and less stressful, making it worth it for many people. If you’d like to learn more about sedation dentistry and which option might be best for you, feel free to call any time to schedule an appointment with Dr. Tyler at Duvall Dental Center.