Sedation/Sleep Dentistry

People in Albany — maybe you? — harbor anxiety or outright fear of the dentist. Perhaps it stems from a childhood event at the dentist’s office. Maybe it’s just the built-up fears from second-hand horror stories. But today’s dentists not only offer truly pain-free dentistry, but also sedation or sleep dentistry. With sedation dentistry, you’re put into a relaxed or unconscious state during the entire procedure. It’s the perfect remedy to overcome your fears and get the dental health care that you need.


According to the Dental Organization for Conscious Sedation, as many as 30 percent of adults avoid proper dental care due to anxiety and phobia-related fears. Because these fears prevent needed routine care, many health problems — including tooth pain, infections, tooth decay, gum disease and an improper bite causing jaw pain can develop and even escalate into more serious conditions.

Sedation dentistry or sleep dentistry is a process your Albany County dentist uses to provide you the most anxiety-free route to your best dental health. While most sedation doesn’t actually put you to sleep, you feel drowsy during the process. The sedation effect merely helps you deal with any fear or anxiety by relaxing you.

Sedation dentistry is available for everything from simple cleanings to lengthy, complex dental procedures, such as getting full mouth dental implants. You and your family dentist determine the best method for your concerns, together.

Who Benefits from Sedation Dentistry?

Many individuals deal with issues that cause them to be unable to sit comfortably in a dentist chair. Some dental procedures take time and even filling a cavity can seem uncomfortable. But everyone on the planet needs regular dental check-ups, regardless how well you brush and floss.

Those who can benefit from sleep dentistry include:

  1. Individuals with extremely sensitive teeth
  2. Anyone with a quick gag reflex
  3. Those with a high level of anxiety about dentist visits
  4. Children or handicapped adults who might have trouble sitting still for the needed time
  5. People who have a low pain tolerance
  6. Patients requiring a lengthy dental procedure

What Types of Sleep Dentistry Are Available?

Your Albany Dental dentist has several methods of sedation dentistry to match your concerns, health and desires. Which you choose depends on the procedures you require, your medical health and your level of anxiety. The methods listed below provide ever greater levels of sedation, starting from the lightest sedation:

  • Minimal sedation. This is the mildest form of relaxation you can get. You’re calm, but never completely asleep. Your dentist administers a dose of nitrous oxide or laughing gas through a mask that fits over your nose and mouth. The gas relaxes your muscles and your mind. This sedation helps calm anxiety, wears off quickly and is the only sedation method that allows you to drive yourself home afterwards. It’s perfect for those with mild anxiety.
  • Moderate sedation. At a deeper level of sedation, you may slur words and be unable to remember much about the dental procedure. Your dentist may use oral medication, intramuscular injection or IV medication into a vein in your arm. This sedation takes affect quickly and your dentist can easily manipulate the amount required for your comfort. You’ll need someone to drive you home afterwards, as you’ll still feel dizzy.
  • Deep sedation. Usually requiring IV medication, deep sedation puts you further out, although not completely unconscious. Your dentist can awaken you when it’s over, but you’ll be groggy and disoriented.
  • General anesthesia. Using oral medication and IVs, your dentist puts you into a deep sleep. You are unconscious during the entire procedure, and it takes some time for you to fully awaken. This technique is for the most severe or lengthy cases.

Concerns Regarding Sedation Dentistry

As with any medical procedure, sleep dentistry comes with some risks and concerns. Anyone who is obese, has sleep apnea or has experienced issues regarding anesthesia or sedation in the past must share these concerns with the dentist. It’s recommended that you:

  • Learn about the proper level of sedation you’ll be given.
  • Ask questions about any potential side effects from any level of sedation — there aren’t any for most people.
  • Find out how much sedation costs, as insurance doesn’t usually cover sleep dentistry, although your dentist works with you to find payment options that work within your financial means because he believes that affordable dentistry should be available to everyone.

Your dentist uses local anesthesia with most forms of sedation to help control any pain in your affected teeth and gums. Local anesthesia is usually applied after the sedation kicks in, so you may not even remember the injection. Throughout the procedure, you’re relaxed and pain-free.

It’s more important for you to get the dental care you need than to avoid the dentist at all costs. Most people report feeling as though the dental process only lasted a few minutes. Their level of anxiety is greatly reduced or eliminated for their dental visit. Ask your dentist at Albany County Dental Associates if sedation dentistry is right for you.