Lighthouse Dental Centre

Oral Sedation Dentistry

When patients have anxiety about a dental procedure, conscious sedation can help ease their minds and reduce discomfort.

If you have an upcoming procedure at Lighthouse Dental Centre, you may be wondering what conscious sedation is, how it works and what it feels like.


What is Conscious Sedation?

Conscious sedation uses medication and local anesthesia to help you feel more relaxed and ease discomfort during a dental procedure.

We often use this type of sedation when patients have anxiety about dental procedures, including cleanings, fillings, root canals, implants, cosmetic dentistry, veneers, crowns, bridges, teeth whitening in-office, X-rays and extractions including wisdom teeth.

Today, conscious sedation is also known as procedural sedation and analgesia, or PSA. It also goes by other names, like sleep dentistry, laughing gas, happy gas or happy air.

There are three levels of sedation:

  • Minimal: You will be fully conscious, responsive and relaxed. Oral medications are used for this level of sedation.
  • Moderate: You will feel relaxed and sleepy. You may lose consciousness. However, you will still be responsive.
  • Deep: You will be mostly unresponsive and asleep for the procedure.

What is the Difference Between Conscious Sedation and General Anesthesia?

With conscious sedation and general anesthesia, the goal is to eliminate discomfort and anxiety about medical procedures. But these two types of sedation differ in many ways.

  • Conscious Oral Sedation
  • General Anesthesia-Dentist-Hospital
  • IV Sedation-Dentistry
  • Nitrous Oxide-Sleep Dentistry

Conscious Sedation

  • Used for routine procedures, such as fillings, cleaning, tissue biopsies most general dental services.
  • You will be mostly awake for the procedure, but you won't feel pain.
  • You will likely remember some of the procedure.
  • The sedative may be administered via pill, gas through a mask or a shot into your muscle.
  • It may take a little time for the sedative to kick in. However, if delivered via IV, the effect will be immediate.
  • The effect will wear off quickly. You may be able to take yourself home, but it's best to have someone pick you up.

General Anesthesia

  • Used for major surgeries, or if requested by a patient.
  • You should not have memory of the procedure, and you will be entirely unconscious.
  • Typically administered via an IV.
  • The drugs enter the bloodstream immediately, so the effect kicks in very quickly.
  • It can take hours for general anesthesia to wear off. Someone will need to take you home.

How Does Conscious Sedation Work?

The process of conscious sedation will depend on the procedure. We'll explain how it works so that you know what to expect.

  • First, you'll sit down in the dental chair, and we'll use a pulse oximeter before we get started. We ask that you wear loose-fitting clothing for your procedure.
  • We will administer the sedative. In most cases, this will be through an oral tablet, such as Lorazepam, Diazepam or Midazolam.
  • If taking an oral sedative, we will have to wait for it to take effect before starting the procedure. This can take 30-45 minutes or slightly longer.
  • Once the sedative takes effect, we will monitor your blood pressure and breathing. If your oxygen levels get too low, we may have you use a nasal canula to ensure that you're breathing consistently and that your blood pressure is at a normal level.
  • We will begin the procedure, which can take anywhere from 15-30 minutes in most cases. More complex procedures can take several hours.

From routine dental procedures at our office, such as fillings, crown replacements or root canals to dental emergency treatment you have the option to request conscious sedation. With these procedures, we typically use local anesthesia. However, our dentist will be happy to fulfill patient requests for conscious sedation to make the procedure as stress-free as possible.

What Does Conscious Sedation Feel Like?

Most of our patients describe sedation as feeling very relaxed or drowsy, but the effects can vary from person to person. Any fear, anxiety or stress you felt about the procedure should fade away.

You may also feel:

  • Tingling in your legs, arms, hands and feet.
  • A heavy sensation in your limbs.
  • That your reflexes are delayed.
  • Time moves more slowly.
  • A bit of euphoria. Our patients sometimes smile or laugh for no obvious reason.

What are the Side Effects of Conscious Sedation?

The side effects of conscious sedation can last for a few hours and may include:

  • A sleepy feeling
  • Low blood pressure
  • A feeling of heaviness in your limbs
  • Delayed reflexes
  • Headache
  • Nausea

Although these effects can last for a few hours, most people recover from conscious sedation relatively quickly.


What Happens After the Procedure?

  • We may ask you to stay in the procedure room for a while to monitor your blood pressure, heart rate and breathing until they reach normal levels.
  • Make sure that a friend or family member comes with you to take you home after the procedure.
  • Some of the side effects may last the rest of the day. Some patients develop headaches or feel drowsy.

We recommend avoiding exercise until after the effects have worn off. If possible, take the day off of work.


Is Conscious Sedation Expensive?

The cost of conscious sedation will depend on several factors, such as:

  • The type of sedation
  • The type of procedure
  • The length of time you are sedated
  • Which drugs were used

With some procedures, conscious sedation is a standard part of the procedure. In this case, the costs may be covered by insurance. However, if it isn't required, it may not be covered by your dental plan.

If you request or elect conscious sedation, you may be responsible for all or some of the costs. You can expect to spend the following:

  • Light sedation: From $75-$150, depending on which drugs are used, the amount needed and your location.
  • IV sedation: $200-$900 or more.

Relaxing-Woman-Happy Sedation

Conscious Sedation is a Simple Way to Ease Dental Anxiety

If you have anxiety about a dental procedure, conscious sedation may be a good option for you. Our staff will be happy to discuss your options and help you find the best solution to ease your anxiety and make sure that you're comfortable during the procedure.

The side effects are minimal and there are rarely any complications. If you're worried about a procedure, having the option to use conscious sedation may make it easier to go to your appointments.

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