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Is Sedation Dentistry Right for You?



Many people experience anxiety when they think about going to the dentist; however, for some, the problem is exceptionally severe. In certain instances, dentists will offer to sedate patients in an attempt to calm their nerves. For many people, this is the only way they can receive critical dental treatments. That said, some are resistant to sedation dentistry because they have safety concerns.

Who Needs it?

Sedation dentistry is a good option for people who aren’t able to get the necessary dental treatments due to phobias. Additionally, it may also be appropriate for people who have sensitive gag reflexes, and for patients who have difficulty becoming numb. While some people need sedatives to allow them to get the treatments they need, others prefer it because it makes dental procedures more tolerable. Invariably, patients should speak to their dentist, so they can help determine if sedation is appropriate for their individual needs.

How it Works

During sedation dentistry, patients receive a sedative pill, such as Halcion, approximately one hour before their procedure. The dentist may also provide more medicines, depending on how well the initial one worked. Once the pills take effect, the patient remains conscious and receptive to commands; however, he or she is unaware of what is going on and will typically maintain no memory of the procedure.

What’s the Cost?

Sedation dentistry can cost hundreds of dollars, depending on the type of sedation used. Although many consider this a small price to pay for avoiding the pain and stress associated with certain kinds of dental treatments, others may not always agree. According to the dentist, Dr. Mark Dunayer, cost can be a factor when patients are deciding whether or not to choose sedation dentistry.

“At our office, we offer two options: oral conscious sedation or nitrous oxide,” he said. “Oral sedation is $425, and right now, insurance doesn’t typically cover it. The cost of nitrous is included in the cost of any treatment that would warrant sedation. We want patients to be comfortable and relaxed when we’re treating them.”

Is it Safe?

Although some have expressed concern over potential over-sedation, problems are exceedingly rare. In the past, children have died due to being over-sedated, which is why the Dental Organization for Conscious Sedation (DOCS) only recommends the technique for adults. That said because everyone responds differently to sedation drugs, patients must discuss their past experiences with these types of medications. Ultimately, the DOCS reported that nearly 100 percent of patients have no trouble and are thrilled with the way sedation dentistry eases their stress and pain.