Sedation Dentistry: Types, Costs, and What to Expect

Sedation Dentistry: Types, Costs, and What to Expect


For people who experience dental anxiety or who struggle with certain treatments such as root canals, sedation dentistry may provide a good solution. What is sedation dentistry, how much will it cost, and what should you expect during the experience?

Sedation dentistry offers patients a way to receive dental treatment in an environment that allows them to relax and remain calm. It has many benefits: reduced pain, shorter appointment times, little-to-no recall of the appointment, and a relieved sense of worry and stress.

To get the most out of your experience with sedation dentistry, it is important to understand all aspects related to the procedure, such as the types of sedation available, pricing, and what one should expect from their experience.

What is Sedation Dentistry?

Sedation dentistry is a type of dental care that involves the use of sedative medications to help patients relax and feel more comfortable during dental procedures. It is also referred to as sleep dentistry or conscious sedation dentistry.

The sedative medication can be administered in various ways, including oral medications, nitrous oxide (also known as laughing gas), or intravenous (IV) sedation. The level of sedation can range from minimal, where the patient is still conscious and responsive, to deep sedation, where the patient is almost asleep but can still be easily awakened.

Sedation dentistry is often used for patients who have anxiety about visiting a dental office, have a low pain threshold, have a sensitive gag reflex, require extensive dental work, or have difficulty sitting in the dental chair for extended periods. It can also be used for patients undergoing procedures that may be otherwise painful or uncomfortable, such as root canals or extractions.

It’s important to note that sedation dentistry is not the same as general anesthesia. With sedation dentistry, patients are still conscious and able to communicate with the dentist, whereas, with general anesthesia, patients are completely unconscious.

Types of Sedation Dentistry

There are several different types of sedation dentistry, and your dental team can recommend the best sedation method for you depending on your treatment plan and preferences.

Nitrous Oxide Sedation

Nitrous oxide involves inhaling a gas mixture (nitrous oxide and oxygen) through a mask placed over the nose and provides minimal sedation. Nitrous oxide is also known as laughing gas, and it can help patients feel relaxed and calm during dental procedures.

Oral Conscious Sedation

Oral sedation is another one of the more minimal forms of sedation that involves taking a prescribed sedative medication, such as Valium, about an hour before the dental appointment. This medication can cause drowsiness and help the patient feel relaxed and calm during the procedure.

Intravenous (IV) Sedation

This is a more moderate sedation that involves administering sedative medication through an IV line directly into the bloodstream. IV sedation can provide a deeper level of sedation than nitrous oxide or oral sedation. It can also be adjusted throughout the procedure to maintain the desired level of sedation.

The levels of sedation used will depend on several factors, including the patient’s medical history, anxiety level, and the type of dental procedure being performed. Your dental professional can help determine the best type of sedation for your needs.

When is Sedation Dentistry Used?

Sedation dentistry may be used in several situations, including:

  • Dental anxiety: Sedation dentistry can help patients who have dental anxiety or fear of dental procedures. Sedation can help patients feel more relaxed and comfortable during their appointments.
  • Complex procedures: Sedation dentistry may be used for more complex procedures, such as wisdom teeth removal, dental implant placement, or root canal treatment.
  • Gag reflex: Some patients have a strong gag reflex, which can make it difficult to perform certain dental procedures. Sedation dentistry can help these patients feel more comfortable during the procedure and may reduce the gag reflex.
  • Medical conditions: Sedation dentistry may be necessary for patients with certain medical conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease or cerebral palsy, that make it difficult to sit still for long periods of time.
  • Special needs: Sedation dentistry may be used for patients with special needs, such as those with intellectual or developmental disabilities, who may have difficulty cooperating with dental procedures.

What to Expect With Dental Sedation

What to expect during dental sedation can vary depending on the type of sedation used. Here are some general expectations for each type of sedation:

  • Nitrous oxide sedation: You will inhale a gas mixture through a mask placed over your nose. You may feel a slight tingling sensation in your fingers and toes. You will remain conscious and responsive during the procedure, but you will feel relaxed and calm. The effects of nitrous oxide wear off quickly, so you should be able to drive yourself home after the procedure.
  • Oral sedation: You will take a prescribed sedative medication about an hour before the procedure. You may feel drowsy and relaxed, but you will still be able to respond to verbal cues from the dentist. It’s important to arrange for someone to drive you home after the procedure, as the effects of the medication can last for several hours.
  • Intravenous (IV) sedation: A sedative medication will be administered through an IV line directly into your bloodstream. You will feel drowsy and relaxed, and you may even fall asleep during the procedure. The dentist will monitor your vital signs throughout the procedure. The effects of IV sedation can take several hours to wear off, so you will need to arrange for someone to drive you home after the procedure.

It’s important to follow any pre-operative instructions given by your dentist or dental specialist to ensure a safe and comfortable experience during sedation dentistry. Your dental team will also provide post-operative instructions to help you recover from the sedation and any dental procedures performed.

How Much Does Dental Sedation Cost

The cost of dental sedation can vary depending on several factors, including the type of sedation used and the length of the procedure. Here are some estimated costs for the different types of sedation:

  • Nitrous oxide sedation: The cost of nitrous oxide sedation can range from $25 to $100 per appointment.
  • Oral sedation: The cost of oral sedation can range from $150 to $500 per appointment, depending on the type of medication used.
  • Intravenous (IV) sedation: The cost of IV sedation can range from $500 to $1,000 per appointment, depending on the length of the procedure and the type of medication used.

Sedation may not be covered by dental insurance, and it’s always best to check with your dentist or dental specialist about the specific costs and insurance coverage for sedation dentistry.

Inquire About Sedation Dentistry at Greenville Family Dentistry

Sedation dentistry is a safe, effective way to manage dental anxiety and help patients relax during their procedures. At Greenville Family Dentistry, we provide various sedation options so that you can get the care you need in comfort. Call us today to learn more about how we can make your experience comfortable and pain-free with sedation dentistry.


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