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Sedation Dentistry Keeps Patients Comfortable

For people who avoid the dentists, sedation dentistry may take
away some of their anxiety. Sedation can be used for everything

from invasive procedures to a simple tooth cleaning. 

Sedation dentistry uses medication to help patients relax during

dental procedures. It's sometimes referred to as "sleep dentistry,"

although that's not entirely accurate. Patients are usually awake

with the exception of those who are under general anesthesia.

The levels of sedation used include:

  • Minimal sedation -- you are awake but relaxed

  • Moderate sedation (formerly called "conscious sedation") --
    you may slur your words when speaking and not remember
    much of the procedure

  • Deep sedation -- you are on the edge of consciousness but can still be awakened

  • General anesthesia -- you are completely unconscious

The following types of sedation are used in dentistry:

  • Inhaled minimal sedation. You breathe nitrous oxide -- otherwise known as "laughing gas" -- combined with oxygen through a mask that's placed over your nose. The gas helps you relax. Your dentist can control the amount of sedation you receive, and the gas tends to wear off quickly. This is the only form of sedation where you may be able to drive yourself home after the procedure

  • Oral sedation. Depending on the total dose given, oral sedation can range from minimal to moderate. For minimal sedation, you take a pill. Typically, the pill is Halcion, which is a member of the same drug family as Valium, and it's usually taken about an hour before the procedure. The pill will make you drowsy, although you'll still be awake. A larger dose may be given to produce moderate sedation. This is the type of anesthesia most commonly associated with sedation dentistry. Some people become groggy enough from moderate oral sedation to actually fall asleep during the procedure. They usually can, though, be awakened with a gentle shake

  • IV moderate sedation. You receive the sedative drug through a vein, so it goes to work more quickly. This method allows the dentist to continually adjust the level of sedation

  • Deep sedation and general anesthesia. You will get medications that will make you either almost unconscious or totally unconscious -- deeply asleep -- during the procedure. While you are under general anesthesia, you cannot easily be awakened until the effects of the anesthesia wear off or are reversed with medication

Dr. Wolf always has a dental anesthesiologist on hand to monitor a patients vital signs during the procedure, so he and the rest of his team can focus on the procedure and your overall dental care. For many patients sedation dentistry provides a more comfortable approach to any dental procedure.

Learn more information on sedation dentistry at

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