Why Sedation Dentistry?
Are you nervous about going to the dentist? You’re definitely not alone! Even if you’re excited about having your procedure, and ready to get your smile back, you still might feel very anxious about going to the dentist to have your procedure. You might even feel like you want to avoid the dentist, even if it means giving up getting your smile fixed, because you have so much anxiety about the procedure itself.
You don’t have to give up your smile! Sedation dentistry allows you to have dental work without the extreme anxiety. Your options for helping you to cope with the nervousness include nitrous oxide (“laughing gas”), given just before your procedure; intravenous medications, which are also given by your dentist just before your procedure; and sedative pills (such as Valium or similar medications), which you take before your appointment. Sometimes, more than one of these may be used, though it’s important to avoid being over-sedated, as this may be dangerous.
Depending on the procedure, sedation may be standard. For more extensive procedures, such as facial surgery, nitrous oxide and/or IV sedation are usually used. However, there are also many dental procedures that don’t usually include sedation that can have it added if you need it.
Local anesthetic will almost always be used for everyone in any procedure that would cause pain. Sedation is not intended to reduce pain, but to reduce anxiety.
Of course, whether you can receive sedation for your dental procedure depends on your health. Your dentist will need to know your medical history, including any other medications you may take and any allergies you have, in order to determine whether it’s safe for you to be given a sedative for your dental procedure.
For more detail about the various types of sedation available, please visit our Sedation Dentistry page in our Education Wiki.
If you’d like to receive sedation for your dental procedure, you might want to know how much it will cost and whether insurance will cover it.
For nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, the cost is typically between $25 and $100, with an average around $75. This cost may be included in your procedure if it’s an extensive one. Oral sedation costs a little more, with fees from $150 to $500, depending on the exact medication used. Intravenous sedation is the most expensive option, costing around $500 to $700, and potentially much more.
Keep in mind that this is only an average; it varies by region and by individual dentist, so you should check with the dentist(s) you’re considering to determine their exact fee for the procedure. Ask what’s included in that fee, to make sure you aren’t surprised by extra costs when you get the bill later.
Will Insurance Cover It?
If sedation is typically a part of the procedure you’re having, then your insurance company may cover it. In most cases, however, the cost of the sedation medications will be your responsibility. This is true even if insurance is paying for the procedure, such as a filling, for which you choose sedation.
Medical insurance typically does not cover dentistry at all. You need to have a separate dental insurance plan to cover dental care.
To many people, paying hundreds or thousands of dollars up front for a dental procedure seems impossible, and adding the cost of sedation just makes it seem worse. However, if you don’t already have the money saved, you have many options available for financing. In some cases, dentists offer financing plans for their patients. You can also get a medical credit card or other credit card, often with an attractive introductory interest rate; a medical loan, personal loan, or home equity loan from your bank; a loan from your 401(k); or loans or gifts from family and friends. Even if your credit isn’t great, you’d be surprised how many options you have. For more details about the financing options for your procedure, check out our Dentistry Financing page.