Sleep Dentistry: Finding the Right Level of Sedation

Sleep dentistry offers a way for patients with dental anxiety to receive an adequate level of sedation for them to feel comfortable. However, choosing the right type of sedation for your specific needs requires knowing about each available option and when one type of sedation may be preferable to another.

What are the different types of sedation in sleep dentistry?

There are several different types of sedation available in sleep (sedation) dentistry. The most common types are nitrous oxide (laughing gas), intravenous (IV) sedation, oral sedation, and general anesthesia. The following is a review of each type of sedation dentistry and when one might be preferable.

Minimal sedation with nitrous oxide

Nitrous oxide, which is commonly referred to as “laughing gas,” is the mildest form of dental sedation. The patient is fully conscious with laughing gas, although they may feel much more relaxed than they otherwise would. Nitrous oxide works by placing a mask over the patient's nose. The nitrous oxide is released, and the patient should feel the effects within a few short minutes. One of the best things about nitrous oxide is that the effects wear off relatively quickly after the mask is removed. Some adult patients are even able to drive themselves home if nitrous oxide is the only form of sleep dentistry that is utilized.

Moderate sedation with intravenous (IV) sedation

Intravenous sedation, also called IV sedation, is stronger than nitrous oxide but still safe for patients. IV sedation involves administering the sedative medication directly into the bloodstream intravenously (through a vein). The patient typically feels very sleepy with IV sedation, and they may not recall much or any of the procedure after it is over. Patients who choose IV sedation generally need to arrange for a ride home after the procedure.

Moderate sedation with oral sedation

Oral sedation, also called conscious sedation, is another safe form of sleep dentistry that produces relatively strong results. As the name implies, the patient is conscious and awake with oral sedation. However, patients may not remember much about the treatment they receive. In some cases, nitrous oxide is used in addition to oral sedation to provide results. It can take more than twelve hours in some cases for the effects of oral sedation to wear off.

Deep sedation with general anesthesia

General anesthesia is the deepest form of sleep dentistry. Patients who choose general anesthesia are completely unconscious, and it carries more risks than the aforementioned methods of sleep dentistry. While it may be the best option for more invasive oral surgery procedures, general anesthesia is typically not recommended for most types of dental procedures.

Are you considering sleep dentistry?

Here at our dental practice, we offer sleep dentistry for patients who may not feel comfortable during certain procedures. If you would like to learn more about how sleep dentistry can benefit you, then we encourage you to call us today to schedule a convenient appointment time to meet with our friendly dentist and staff.

Request an appointment here: or call Pier 210 Dental Group at (530) 885-5696 for an appointment in our Auburn office.

Check out what others are saying about our dental services on Yelp: Sedation Dentist in Auburn, CA.

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