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Reasons To Consider Sedation Dentistry

Updated: Apr 3


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Reasons To Consider Sedation Dentistry

Odontophobia, also known as dentophobia or dental anxiety, is a psychological condition involving fear or anxiety around going to the dentist or getting certain dental procedures. Dental anxiety is very common, with some experts estimating the number of Americans suffering from it to some degree as high as 40 million people. Many sufferers of dental anxiety experience only mild apprehension, but for some, the fear and anxiety can be so intense that they will live with gum disease, broken, rotted, or otherwise unsightly teeth, and even serious conditions like abscessed teeth. Fortunately, modern dental medicine has options to deal with odontophobia in both mild and more severe forms – enter conscious sedation.

Dental anxiety, among other issues, is a reason to consider sedation dentistry.

What is Conscious Sedation?

Conscious sedation involves the use of sedative or dissociative drugs, sometimes used in conjunction with an analgesic. In the dental field, the most common drugs used for conscious sedation are nitrous oxide and benzodiazepines, like Xanax, Valium, or Ativan. Generally speaking, nitrous oxide is suitable in cases of mild to moderate dental anxiety, while benzodiazepines are appropriate for patients with moderate to severe dental anxiety.

The main advantage of conscious sedation versus anesthesia is that it is more mild and causes less of a disturbance in the patients daily life. In many cases, the patient will even be able to drive themselves to and from their appointment. It also is far less likely to cause disturbances in respiratory or cardiovascular function than anesthesia. However, the risk is still present, and consequently a qualified provider monitors patients closely throughout treatment.

Conscious sedation can help many people deal with their dental anxiety and get them the care they need. In cases of extreme dental anxiety, it can even save a patient’s life if they are suffering from early stages of sepsis.

If you feel apprehensive about going to the dentist, or are putting off a treatment you need, conscious sedation may be the right fit for you.


Types Of Sedation Dentistry

Sedation dentistry is a dental treatment that is perfect for patients who experience anxiety or fear when visiting the dentist. This treatment is administered intravenously. It allows the patient to feel relaxed, calm, and even sleepy. While the patient is receiving the sedation, we will perform more extensive procedures that may otherwise take multiple visits to complete.

There are a number of different types of sedation dentistry, including nitrous oxide sedation, oral sedation, and IV sedation. Each type of sedation is tailored to the patient’s unique needs and situations. Nitrous oxide and oral sedation allow the patient to remain awake, but feel a sense of calm. IV sedation, on the other hand, is a deeper form of sedation and cause the patient to sleep through treatment.

Anesthesia and dentistry

Dentists, like other doctors, have been using anesthetic to make their procedures easier on the patient since the mid 19th century. In the modern day, dentists use a wide range of anesthetic techniques depending on the requirements of a given patient and procedure. Dental anesthesia can be divided into 3 categories:

Light sedation – this is the level most commonly used in conscious sedation procedures. Under light sedation, the patient remains awake and alert, even capable of carrying on a conversation. While the patient’s vitals are still closely monitored, there is no need for artificial respiration.

Moderate sedation – under moderate sedation, while the patient will still remain conscious, they may not remember the procedure. They may fall asleep, but can be woken easily. Some conscious sedation goes as deep as moderate, but it is used rarely compared to light sedation.

Deep sedation – this level of sedation puts the patient into a state of unconsciousness. This type of sedation is not considered conscious sedation, and is generally only used in more in-depth procedures, like dental surgery, or in patients with extreme dental anxiety.


What is used in conscious sedation?

Nitrous oxide – also known as laughing gas, nitrous oxide has a long history of use in dentistry. Inhaled through a mask prior to your procedure, laughing gas eases the patient’s anxiety without impeding their awareness. Another advantage of nitrous oxide is that it wears off very quickly, meaning you can drive yourself to your appointment.

Oral sedative – another option for managing dental anxiety is the use of an anti anxiety medication a few hours before the procedure. Suitable for moderate sedation, this option will require someone drive you to and from your appointment.


What Happens During Sedation Dentistry?

Before your treatment begins, we will make sure you are completely comfortable. Often, patients find sedation dentistry reduces their anxiety, so they are able to relax during their treatment. Using sedation dentistry, patients are able to choose the level of sedation they want. Some patients want enough sedation that they are completely asleep, while others want enough sedation that they are awake but feel very relaxed.

Once the sedation sets in, your dentist will start the dental work. Your treatment time will depend on the number of procedures you are receiving and the type of sedation your dentist is using.


There’s no reason to feel afraid or anxious about dental care. Going to the dentist doesn’t have to be scary. With sedation dentistry, you can feel more relaxed about your appointment and receive the care you need.


  • Reduce Anxiety Many people avoid the dentist’s chair because they are afraid. If you’ve had dental anxiety in the past, sedation dentistry can help you feel calm before and during your procedure. You may be able to avoid the use of nitrous oxide during treatment if you attend regular visits to our office. We will monitor your progress and make sure everything is going well.

  • Minimally Invasive Procedures Sedation dentistry enables patients who suffer from dental anxiety or phobia to get the dental work they need. Many patients avoid the dentist’s office for years due to this fear and anxiety, and find themselves suffering from advanced dental problems as a result. Sedation dentistry helps these patients get the treatment they need without pain or stress.

  • No Needles With sedation dentistry, you won’t know the difference between your appointment and a trip to the spa. That’s because sedation dentistry relaxes you, but it also keeps you relaxed, so you won’t feel any discomfort. You won’t need to worry about getting shots, and you won’t feel any pain.

  • Overcome Gag Reflex Some people have such a strong gag reflex that they can’t tolerate dental procedures. In these situations, sedation dentistry can make it possible. A gag reflex is an involuntary response to something within the mouth that triggers the glottis to close. This can happen when a patient has a loose filling, for example, or gets painful injection. The gag reflex causes patients to reflexively gag. This reflex can be so strong that the patient can barely tolerate the dental treatment.

  • Enjoy Longer Procedures Longer procedures are easier to manage with sedation dentistry. Dental sedation can help patients remain comfortable throughout complex procedures. Some patients even choose to nap while under sedation. When patients are relaxed, they are more cooperative, allowing them to undergo their treatment without stress. The sedation used in dentistry is safe and effective. It can help patients overcome their fear of the dentist, allowing them to receive necessary treatment.

How To Choose a Sedation Dentist?

If you’re in need of sedation dentistry, it’s important to choose a dentist who’s trained and experienced in providing sedation. If a dentist has years of experience with sedation dentistry, you’re more likely to get high-quality, effective care that will help ease your dental anxiety.

You’ll also want a dentist who’s trained to manage any complications that may arise. Some patients may be at higher risk of complications than others, so your dentist should be able to recognize and manage any issues that may arise.


Sedation Dentistry for Special Cases

Are you an anxious patient? Do you dread going to the dentist? Do you put off your dental visits because you are so nervous? If so, we have a solution for you! It’s called sedation dentistry. Sedation dentistry uses medication to help patients relax during their dental procedure. Some patients even fall asleep during the procedure.

Sedation dentistry is safe and effective. The medication used, either inhaled or taken orally, relaxes the patient. Some patients have even described it as feeling like a dream or floating on cloud nine. The effects of it wear off quickly, so the patient is able to drive themselves home after their procedure.


To find out more about the dental services offered by our dentist in Albuquerque NM, Dr. Snyder, call (505)-293-7611, schedule an online consultation or visit us at 4830 Juan Tabo Blvd. NE, Ste. K, Albuquerque, NM, 87111.

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