Sedation Dentistry Cost

Are you scared of the dentist? Many patients, 36% of adults, are afraid of the dentist, but some have very real phobias that can make them avoid the dentist even if they have a severe toothache.

Fear of pain is one of the many reasons that these individuals avoid scheduling an appointment for an exam, cleaning or treatment.

One option that you have to avoid the pain and anxiety of a procedure is to undergo sedation dentistry.

Sedation cuff and monitoring

What is Sedation Dentistry?

If you have severe anxiety or fear when going to the dentist, you may be a good candidate for sedation dentistry. Sedation therapy is a way to help patients:

Sedation can be used for any service that is offered in a dental office, from a root canal to a general exam or cleaning.

There are three main forms of sedation therapy:

  1. Minimal: Most patients require minimal sedation, which is why we offer oral sedation to our patients. This form of sedation will relax a person so that they can comfortably get through a procedure. However, the individual remains fully conscious throughout the appointment and can even respond.
  2. Moderate: If minimal sedation doesn’t provide enough relaxation for you, moderate sedation may be a good option. This form of sedation will make you feel very sleepy, and you may even nod off during the procedure. However, you remain conscious and will not be in a deep level of sedation.
  3. Deep: In deep sedation, you’ll be unresponsive and asleep during the procedure.

As you can see, sedation therapy takes on many forms, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for everyone. Most people will never need anything beyond minimal sedation, which is more than enough to stop anxiety and help a person relax.

We can discuss your options with you and find a level of sedation that we believe will make you comfortable while also minimizing the risks of side effects.

Oral vs Other Forms of Sedation Dentistry

Sedation therapies have their own benefits and drawbacks. Patients should spend time understanding the form of sedation they’re being offered and how it compares to other options on the market.

Oral Sedation

Oral sedation is conscious sedation, meaning you’ll be awake the entire time, but you will be more relaxed and calm. We find that for most general services, this is the ideal way to help calm anxious patients who have anxiety when coming into our office.

You can be confident of a few things:

  • You won’t feel pain during the procedure
  • You’ll go between periods of waking and sleep
  • You won't remember all the details of your visit

When you have any form of sedation, yu will need to have someone to drive you to and from our office.

We offer oral sedation in our office because we find that it’s the best choice for our patients. Adults and children respond well to this treatment, and you can get through the entire visit:

  • Calm
  • Anxiety-free
  • Comfortable

We find that when the person is relaxed and comfortable, we can help treat them faster and may even reduce the number of visits necessary to complete treatment.

Also, for anyone who has been neglecting their dental health out of fear, oral sedation allows them an opening to gain the confidence they need to come into the office.

Nitrous Oxide - Typically at Pediatric Dental Offices

Laughing gas, or N2O, is considered a mild sedative that is generally safe. Patients who do well with N2O often have significant anxiety or want to manage their pain during the procedure, so they’ll use nitrous oxide.

What is N2O?

This is an odorless and colorless gas that is inhaled by the patient. A mask will go over your face so that you inhale the gas and oxygen at the same time. You’ll breathe normally and find that the gas begins to take effect in just a few minutes.

However, you’re not going to laugh the entire time, although it does sound like that based on the name of the gas.

Instead, the gas will cause your nervous system to slow and may make you feel like your limbs are much heavier than they are. Patients will feel a sense of calm overcome them and may giggle from time to time, but it is so infrequent that it won’t impact the procedure.

A major bonus of laughing gas is that it works quicker than oral sedation but slower than a general anesthetic. You’ll also be awake and able to respond to any questions that you’re asked during the procedure.

However, you may experience some adverse side effects, such as:

  • Shivering
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Headache

You’ll also need to have oxygen administered right after the mask is removed to help combat some of these symptoms. While most patients will not experience any of these side effects, but everyone is different.

General Anesthesia

We do not offer general anesthesia, nor do many dentists worldwide. We need to have a clear path to your teeth, and when undergoing general anesthesia, a person may even have a tube in their throat that blocks access to their teeth.

Additionally, this form of sedation is only necessary:

  • For major surgeries
  • On patient request

If you’ve been in a serious accident and are sedated, a dentist may need to come in and remove broken or cracked teeth. However, it’s very uncommon for general anesthesia to be used for dental procedures unless it’s a very rare case.

This level of sedation will:

  • Put you to sleep
  • Work within seconds
  • Take hours or longer to wear off
  • Normally require an IV

You’ll also pay much more for general anesthesia than you would with any other kind of sedation dentistry due to the complexities and potential risks involved.

What to Expect During Sedation?

Sedation should make you feel relaxed and a little tired. Since everyone will react differently to sedation, it’s impossible to know exactly what you’ll feel. However, most of our patients will feel one or a combination of:

  • Delayed reflexes
  • Tingling in their extremities
  • Heaviness

Sedation aims to feel more relaxed and calm during your procedure. Many patients feel a sense of euphoria, but others will just feel calm. When we administer oral sedation, it will take a few minutes for it to begin working, so you’ll need to remain in the dentist's chair while the sedative takes effect.

We’ll check with you to ensure the sedative is working before we begin the procedure.

What Form of Sedation is Best for You?

This is determined on a case by case basis. You may have side effects that others will not experience, and there are other variables to consider which may make you a poor candidate for sedation therapy, such as:

  • Pregnancy
  • Respiratory illness
  • Substance abuse
  • Mental health conditions

We’ll ask you a series of questions when you’re in our office to help identify whether you’re a good candidate for oral sedation. The cost will also play a role in your decision to choose sedation because there are additional costs involved to ensure that the patient remains in a stable condition while sedated.

Sedation Dentistry Costs

Sedation dentistry can be expensive, but costs vary significantly. A few of the factors to consider are:

  • Number of treatments necessary
  • Level of sedation

If you have full IV sedation (something we do not offer), it can cost $800 - $1,500

Oral Sedation

Our office provides oral sedation for our patients, and pricing is around $100-150.

Nitrous Oxide Sedation

Dental gas or nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, is an option and also considered “twilight sedation.” You won’t be fully unconscious, and the costs often range from $50-100. Nitrous is not offered at our clinic but can regularly be found at pediatric offices.

Boy experiencing nitrous oxide sedation

General Anesthesia Sedation

Most dentist offices do not offer general anesthesia because there are a lot of complications that can occur. The cost of this level of anesthesia is $1,200+ an hour - it’s very expensive.

We offer oral sedation dentistry to our patients to help them be at ease during their visit.

If you have any questions regarding sedation dentistry or want to discuss your concerns more with us, contact us to speak to a member of our team.

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Dr. Gurpreet Sidhu - Dentist at Lighthouse Dental Centre and Blue Water Dental
Dr. Gurpreet Sidhu

With nearly two decades of experience, Dr. Sidhu enjoys helping his patients learn about dentistry. Knowledge is meant to be improved, challenged and shared.

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