Sedation Dentistry

Imagine undergoing a complex dental treatment like extraction, implant placement, bone or gum grafting, or crown lengthening. When your treatment is complete, you have less recollection of the time it took, the pain, the noise, or the discomfort you were expecting. We are pleased to offer our patients the option of comfortable, safe, and effective sedation dentistry. Patients who benefit from sedation dentistry have:

  • A fear or anxiety of being at the dentist
  • A hard time sitting still for long periods of time
  • A hard time getting (and staying) numb from anesthetics

What is Sedation Dentistry?

Sedation dentistry allows us to provide a variety of dental treatments safely and comfortably for patients who experience anxiety when visiting the dentist. There are several benefits of sedation dentistry, including:

  • Little or no memory of undergoing the procedure
  • Little or no sense of time while under sedation
  • Little or no sense of smell or sound
  • Little or no fear or anxiety during treatment

Patients who have undergone a procedure using sedation dentistry will tell you it's a simple, relaxing way to experience dentistry.

I'm nervous about being unconscious. What levels of sedation are available to me?

There's no need to be nervous about having sedation dentistry at our practice. We are licensed by the Washington State Department of Health, and you'll find that we are both respectful and professional at all times.

Sedation dentistry is closely regulated by law, and there are three sedative states at which you can receive treatment: mild sedation, moderate sedation, and deep sedation.

  • Mild Sedation - Anxiolysis is the lightest form of sedation dentistry and is often used for patients with mild anxiety, longer procedures or more complex situations. Nitrous oxide inhalation (laughing gas) is the mildest form of sedation, where you are very relaxed during treatment and feel more normal within minutes after stopping. You can receive nitrous oxide sedation without being accompanied. The next level of mild sedation is administered in smaller doses orally; you remain awake or slightly sleepy throughout the entire procedure and are able to breathe on your own, but you will feel a great sense of relaxation. Patients typically largely recover from this level of sedation within a few hours after the procedure is complete. You must be accompanied to and from your appointment with the addition of these oral medicines. 
  • Moderate Sedation - Used for patients with moderate dental anxiety and for patients who need longer or more complex procedures, conscious sedation often refers to the use of combined oral medication and nitrous oxide, or light IV sedation. With conscious sedation you will be in a deep state of relaxation. It is essential that patients receiving conscious sedation have a parent, spouse, or friend accompany them to appointments because it can take several hours for the sedative to wear off.
  • Deep Sedation - Patients receiving deep sedation go between consciousness and unconsciousness during their dental procedure. Patients often have no recollection of the treatment and are unable to respond to commands even if they are awake at times during the procedure. It is essential that patients receiving deep sedation have a parent, spouse, or friend accompany them to appointments.

How are sedatives administered?

  • Inhalation – Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, is the most frequently used method for easing mild to moderate anxiety. Recovery is quick so you can resume your normal activities immediately. You may drive youself to and from your appointment if you receive nitrous oxide only.
  • Oral – An extremely common technique for dental sedation is oral sedation. It's easy and doesn't require the use of needles. You will be given a prescription pill, taken about an hour before your appointment, so that you are fully relaxed by the time you arrive at our office. You should not drive, care for small children, cook,or have other responsibilities that require mental alertness for the rest of the day.
  • Intravenous (IV) - In IV sedation, a sedative is administered intravenously, or directly into a vein. The sedation can be quickly modified to your state of consciousness and can be continued as long as necessary for the procedure. With deeper sedation we partner with and anesthesiologist for your safety.  Our attention can then be dedicated to the best surgical outcome while the anesthesiologist is focused entirely on your sedation experience. You should not drive, care for small children, cook,or have other responsibilities that require mental alertness for at least 24 hours.

Please contact our practice to schedule a consultation, learn more about sedation dentistry, and find out which sedation dentistry method is right for you.

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