There is a misconception that all sedation dentistry is the same, but most of the advertisements you hear on the radio or see on TV are for oral conscious sedation. These dentists sometimes will even use the terms “sleep” or “snooze” with the intent of misleading patients into believing that they will be asleep during their dental appointment.
The Washington Department of Health issues sedation permits for dentists to perform sedation. The permits are only issued after the dentist has received additional education and training.
Most of the dentists that are advertising sedation dentistry only hold a conscious, minimal sedation permit. The drugs they use are administered orally, and although they can make you very relaxed, they are not intended to put you out during the appointment. They will, however, inhibit the formation of memories during the procedure so afterward, it may seem as if you were asleep.
At Sleep Dentistry of Vancouver, we offer light sedation to general anesthesia when necessary. Only a handful of dentists in the state of Washington are qualified and licensed to perform deep sedation and general anesthesia.
We were the first practice in Vancouver to focus on intravenous sedation for general dental procedures.
IV sedation is safer and more predictable than oral sedation alone. Not only can the level of sedation be controlled much more accurately, the drugs can also be reversed just as easily using the IV.
Using oral sedation for deep sedation is just not safe or practical. There are too many variables, such as what the patient has eaten, how quickly the drug passes through the lining of the stomach and intestines, and how quickly the body will metabolize the drugs. For safety, the doctor is usually forced to err on the side of lighter sedation.
Types Of Sedation Dentistry
In Washington, there are multiple types of sedation permits: nitrous oxide, minimal sedation, moderate sedation, deep sedation, and general anesthesia.
- Nitrous oxide means a dentist uses the inhalation of this substance to lightly sedate patients.
- Minimal sedation means a minimally depressed level of consciousness achieved with non-intravenous methods and typically is administered orally. The dentist still is able to talk to the patient if necessary during the appointment. This is the type of sedation being offered at virtually all the dental offices that advertise sedation.
- Moderate sedation means a drug-induced depression of consciousness during which patients still respond purposefully to verbal commands. Moderate sedation is a stronger sedation and is typically administered intravenously.
- Deep sedation through IV means a drug-induced depression of consciousness during which patients cannot easily be roused without repeated or painful stimulation.
- General anesthesia means a drug-induced loss of consciousness during which patients do not respond to even painful stimulation. Breathing often must be assisted.
For more information, visit our “FAQ” sedation page.