Sedation Dentistry for Adults and Children

Your Comfort is Important to Us

Anesthesia Options

There are three main anesthesia options available for most surgical procedures.  Although the patient’s medical history and the complexity (and duration) of the surgery may limit options in some circumstances, most often our patients have the option of choosing between one of the following anesthesia options.  Please note that each option includes local anesthesia.  Recall that local anesthesia (also called Novacaine) refers to the numbing medication that you may have received at your dentist’s office. The difference between the options below has to do with the level of the patient’s awareness/consciousness. Local Anesthesia Alone – the patient is awake and aware of the procedure. Local Anesthesia with Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas) – the patient remains awake, though much more relaxed; a few will naturally fall asleep. Though not every patient actually laughs out loud, almost everyone becomes more relaxed. Nitrous Oxide (combined with oxygen) is delivered through a mask that fits over the nose.  Of course, clear nasal passages are needed. For either of these first two options, there are no strict dietary limitations. Feel free to enjoy a light meal before the appointment. Conscious Sedation – short-acting sedative medications are delivered which cause the patient to drift into a light sleep.  The patient remains arousable and can cooperate with requests during the procedure, though in most cases they will have no memory of this afterwards. Since local anesthesia injections are still gently given, no pain is perceived so patients snooze comfortably & have no pain when surgery is completed. General Anesthesia/Deep Sedation with Local Anesthesia – short-acting sedative medications are delivered which cause the patient to drift into a deeper level of sleep than is achieved with Conscious Sedation.  The patient is fully asleep & not arousable until the surgery has been completed and the medication infusion has been stopped. Oral Surgical procedures that occur closer to the throat (removal of wisdom teeth for example) will typically require a General Anesthesia both for the patient’s safety (need for retraction vs. gag reflex) and comfort.  Patients should awaken with no pain whatsoever, since local anesthesia is given while they are asleep. For either Sedation or General Anesthesia:

  • A mature adult must accompany the patient to the appointment and remain in our office during the procedure. After escorting the patient home, it is suggested that an adult remains with them throughout the day.
  • Patients must not eat or drink for 6 to 8 hours before the appointment. Usual medications should be taken with a sip of water.
  • State-of-the-art anesthesia monitoring equipment (blood pressure, EKG/heart tracing, and pulsoximetry) is used
  • Comfortable, short-sleeve, loose fitting clothing should be worn so that we can easily place monitoring devices; if the weather is chilling, wear a jacket over your shirt that can be removed when you arrive.

Pediatric Anesthesia

Children suffer from the same anxiety related to dental procedures as adults, often magnified by prior encounters.  These experiences may be lasting experiences, continuing throughout life.  To provide the safest care, several options are available to comfort and relax your child.  In addition to those techniques listed above, we offer other techniques for making children comfortable.  Among these is an inhaled gas, similar to that used in hospitals, to quickly and safely have the child fall asleep, waking shortly after the procedure is complete.  Children and young adults are often most concerned about “the needle”, and this technique eliminates that concern.  Consult with your surgeon to discuss which option is best for your child.