Is it Worth it to Use Sedation Dentistry?
When you’re considering any dental procedure or device, you need to know the risks, and weigh them against the benefits. The choice of whether or not to have a dental procedure is very personal, and every person will make their choice differently. Here, we’ll discuss the major risks and benefits of using sedation dentistry. If you want to learn more about what the various sedation procedures and their recovery are like, please visit Sedation Dentistry: Procedures and Recovery.
Please note that this page is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for qualified, individualized medical advice. You should discuss your potential dental procedure with your own dentist.
Any procedure has risks, and they should be carefully weighed before you decide to proceed. There is a great deal of variety in how people react to sedation. If you’re not very sensitive to the sedatives, there’s a risk that sedation won’t be adequate in treating your anxiety. With intravenous sedation or nitrous oxide, the dentist can turn up the sedation if you’re not adequately sedated during your procedure, but with oral sedation, if you’re still anxious during your procedure, it will be too late to add more sedative.
If you’re very sensitive to sedatives, there’s some risk that you’ll be oversedated, and could in some cases lose consciousness. This could result in your body being unable to maintain your airway on its own, and your dentist would have to intervene to save your life. There’s a small risk of death from a high enough dose of any sedative. Your dentist will be carefully watching you to ensure your safety.
Even if the dose of sedatives is just right, and you’re neither oversedated nor undersedated during your procedure, there will still be side effects from sedation dentistry. You’ll still be sedated after your appointment, so you won’t be able to drive yourself home from the dentist and will not be able to plan work or other activities for several hours after the appointment. (Nitrous oxide, which wears off fairly quickly, may be an exception to this rule, although it’s always better to be on the safe side by planning a ride home.) In the case of oral sedation, in which you take the sedative about an hour before your appointment, you’ll already be sedated on the way to the dentist and will need a ride to get there as well. The person who drives you should be a trusted friend or family member, rather than a taxi driver or other stranger, because you’ll be in a vulnerable state while sedated.
Dental anxiety is very common. Millions of adults suffer from anxiety when going to the dentist. Even going for a checkup may provoke anxiety, and going for any type of dental procedure may make the anxiety more severe. Many of these people want to take care of their teeth and improve their smile, but avoid the dentist anyway because it just makes them too anxious to go. For patients with this type of anxiety, sedation dentistry can allow them to have the checkups, cleanings, and procedures they need to have an optimally healthy smile. Even though the sedatives have side effects and carry some risk, avoiding the dentist carries some risk too, so many people decide that sedation dentistry is the best choice for them.
The cost for sedation dentistry varies depending on what type of sedation is being used. For nitrous oxide, the cost is generally less than $100; for intravenous sedation, it’s greater than $500; oral sedation is in between. Insurance will usually not cover it, except during certain surgical procedures. The cost varies between dentists and in different regions, so check with the dentist you’re considering to find out the exact price. For more detail, please visit our Sedation Dentistry Cost page.