Dental Sedation & Patient Comfort
Many people experience anxiety during, or in advance of, dental appointments. If you feel apprehensive prior to dental cleanings or treatment, you are not alone. Simply, let us know. You always have the option to have dental treatment and cleanings completed under sedation. Sedation is designed to eliminate feelings of anxiety, worry, and dread. Dental sedation can also:
- Help to enable treatment on extremely sensitive teeth
- Help provide comfort for patients who are not able to be completely anesthetized or “frozen”
- Minimize “gag” reflexes
- Calm active or restless children to receive dental treatment safely
What is Dental Sedation?
Dental sedation (or sedation more generally) involves the use of inhibitory compounds or medicines to depress conscious awareness. Dental sedation is most commonly used for anxiety relief. There is a wide range of sedation options ranging from mild to moderate (or conscious) sedation to deep sedation to General Anesthesia.
Conscious dental sedation ranges from mild or light, to moderate, to deep sedation. Unconscious sedation is achieved by use of General Anesthetic (GA).
Mild sedatives allow you to remain fully conscious but eliminate anxiety. An example of a mild sedative that we offer is nitrous oxide or “laughing gas”. Some oral sedatives can also provide mild sedation if taken at a low dose. During light sedation, a patient can respond to verbal instructions and typically maintain a conversation. Your own voluntary breathing rate and heart rate are sufficient and no intervention is required to maintain either function.
Both child and adult patients receiving “laughing gas” sedation are encouraged to avoid eating or drinking 2 hours prior to their dental appointment.
Moderate sedatives are typically consumed orally (but are sometimes administered intravenously) prior to an appointment and eliminate anxiety while also rendering the patient drowsy. During moderate sedation, a patient can respond to verbal instructions but may require stimulation such as a light nudge or shake. As with mild sedation, your voluntary breathing rate and heart rate are sufficient and no intervention is required to maintain either function.
Deep sedation involves a drug-induced depression of consciousness. Deep sedation is typically achieved by intravenous administration of the sedative. During deep sedation, patients are difficult to arouse and may not respond to verbal instruction. Intervention may be required to maintain adequate ventilation or breathing. Intervention may also be required to maintain a functional airway.
It is critical to be aware that patients undergoing moderate or deep sedation are not safe to drive home following their appointment. In advance of your moderate sedation, please arrange for a friend or family member to drive you home following your appointment. Additionally, it is a best practice to avoid driving, operating heavy machinery or making critical decisions, legal or otherwise, for a minimum of 24 hours following moderate or deep sedation.
General anesthesia is an unconscious sedation typically achieved by intravenous administration of a sedative drug. During general anesthesia, patients cannot be aroused and are unresponsive to instructions. Frequent intervention is required to maintain the patient’s airway and adequate ventilation or breathing.
Can I Eat Before Dental Sedation?
It is generally advisable to avoid eating prior to dental sedation. Often, the sedation increases likelihood of vomiting (laughing gas) or affects your ability to control and maintain your own airway.
For nitrous oxide (or “laughing gas”) sedation, both child and adult patients are encouraged to avoid eating or drinking 2 hours prior to their dental appointment. For deeper forms of sedation, the pre-operative nil per os (NPO) or “nothing by mouth” time is much greater. It is important to clarify these instructions with your Family Dentist in preparation for dental sedation.
Is Sedation Dentistry Expensive?
Costs associated with dental sedation vary according to the type of sedation (laughing gas, oral sedation, intravenous sedation) and the total time administered. Costs increase at 15-minute (or unit) intervals. For example, a 30-minute (or 2 x 15 minute units) laughing gas sedation is roughly $75 in the Ontario Dental Association (ODA) Fee Guide. At the other end of the spectrum, a 2 hour (or 8 x 15 minute units) intravenous conscious sedation is approximately $500 in the ODA Fee Guide. Your Family Dentist will discuss costs associated with any requested or recommended sedation with you at your treatment consult.
If anxiety and phobia are keeping you from having a dental check-up or receiving treatment, please contact us to book a complimentary consult appointment with Dr. Kyle Hornby.