Eight Things You Should Know About Sedation Dentistry

There are times when good old-fashioned local anaesthesia doesn’t cut it, and it is for these occasions that sedation dentistry was invented. Also known as sleep dentistry, dental sedation involves administering medication to the patient to facilitate complicated procedures – or even to make simpler procedures more bearable.

If you are considering sedation dentistry, take a look at these eight important facts.

#1 Sedation Dentistry Is Not The Same As Anaesthesia

The key difference between sedation and general anaesthesia is that one takes the form of varying degrees of sleepiness, while the other is a medically induced loss of consciousness. Patients who are undergoing general anaesthesia have no awareness of what is happening around them. They are not in control of their reflexes, and their cardiovascular functioning has to be monitored closely throughout the procedure.

By contrast, sedation dentistry patients have some awareness of their surroundings. Even when they are in deep sedation, they are asleep rather than unconscious.

Both sedation and general anaesthesia have their uses in dentistry. Sedation can be used for anything from tooth extractions to root canal procedures, whereas anaesthesia is used for lengthier and more complex procedures such as reconstructive dentistry and maxillofacial surgery.

#2 Different Levels Of Sedation Work For Different Patients

Sedation Dentistry

Not all dental sedation is created equally. The degree of sedation you receive depends largely on two factors: what procedure you are undergoing, and the reasons for the sedation. Some patients need to be asleep, while others simply need to have the edge taken off their anxiety.

There are three general levels of sedation:

  • Minimal sedation: the patient is awake and alert, but in a relaxed state
  • Moderate sedation: the patient is more deeply relaxed, but they retain little or no memory of the procedure
  • Deep sedation: the patient is asleep but can be woken up if necessary

#3 Sedation Dentistry Can Benefit Those With Dental Anxiety

Dental anxiety is extremely common: almost half of the Canadian population is thought to experience anxiety ranging from moderate nervousness that delays dental visits to an outright dental phobia.

Sedation dentistry can be a critical element in getting patients with these fears into the dentist’s chair so that their oral health can be taken care of. People who experience dental anxiety can derive great benefit from mild dental sedation, which relaxes them while ensuring that they can be responsive to the dentist.

Sedation Dentistry

#4 Sedation Dentistry Can Reduce Anxiety For Future Dental Visits

Not only can sedation dentistry help ease your anxiety during your upcoming visit, it can be a tool that helps gradually reduce your anxiety for future visits. Because moderate and deep dental sedation leaves you with little or no memory of the procedure, over time you will stop associating dental visits with bad memories, resulting in less stressful visits.

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#5 Not All Dentists Are Equipped For Sedation Dentistry

Dental professionals have to undergo specialized training in sedative techniques and equipment. Without this training the Canadian Dental Association will not grant them the certification and licensing to do this kind of work. If you want to explore the sedation dentistry route, it is important that you find out what your dentist has the certifications for.

#6 There Are Things You Can Do To Prepare

Your dentist will give you detailed instructions prior to your sedation dentistry appointment. These instructions may vary depending on what procedure you are undergoing, and what level of sedation you need.

Some general guidelines for preparation include the following:

  • Take whatever medications are prescribed prior to the procedure. The dentist may prescribe a light sedative for you to take the night before your visit.
  • You should avoid eating or drinking for several hours prior to your appointment. Many dentists intentionally schedule sedation appointments in the mornings to make this easier.
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing.
  • Ensure that your dentist is aware of relevant medical information, such as allergies and medications that you take.

#7 You Will Need A Support Person


It is highly recommended that you have someone with you at your appointment. There are several important reasons for this:

You will not be able to drive home, and you may be unable to safely navigate public transportation. You should have someone with you who can ensure that you get home safely.

  • The dentist may have some post-procedure instructions for you to follow, and you may not be in a condition to receive those instructions.
  • If your home contains potential hazards like stairs, your support person may want to stay with you until they feel that you can be safely left alone.

#8 You Need To Talk To Your Dentist About All Options

If you are considering sedation dentistry, your dentist wants to talk to you about it. The staff at The Art Of Dentistry know you have questions, and we are ready to answer them for you. We want you to know that since dental sedation varies from one patient to the next, the answers and information we give you are customized for you.

We understand that dental procedures can be uncomfortable and anxiety-inducing, and we are here to make those procedures as comfortable as possible. For more information, give us a call at 416-927-7677.

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