Sedation Dentistry Helps You Relax During Your Dental Treatments

“Sleep dentistry” prevents discomfort during dental procedures.

Many people fear or are nervous about dental procedures, but there is a solution. Sedation dentistry can help you feel relaxed.
Sedation dentistry is also a solution for patients who:

  • Are unable to sit still in the dentist chair
  • Have acutely sensitive teeth
  • Need lengthy and complicated dental work
  • Have difficulty holding their mouths open for a long time
  • Have a low threshold for pain
  • Have a significant gag reflex

In this post, we will answer some common questions about sedation.

To find out if sedation dentistry is right for you, please speak with our Moss Street Healthcare dental team.

Though some qualified dentists administer moderate sedation themselves, at Moss Healthcare, we feel the safest approach for “Sleep Dentistry” onsite is for a qualified Medical Anaesthetist to administer these various drugs.

Meet Dr. Larry Kahn

Our dental team is delighted to be working with the Medical Anaesthetist, Dr. Larry Kahn[i].

Dr. Kahn also practices at the Pain Clinic at Royal Jubilee Hospital. He has many years of experience as a Medical Anaesthetist, including assisting us with providing “Sleep Dentistry” to patients who wish for this alternative modality.

With Dr. Kahn in charge of Moderate IV Sedation, our dentists can more freely, and more thoroughly, concentrate on the patient’s dental concerns.

How does Sleep Dentistry work? What happens?

Before treatment begins, sedating medication is given to help the patient relax.

There are different levels of sedation:

Inhaled minimal sedation: Nitrous oxide (laughing gas) is combined with oxygen and administered through a mask placed over the nose. The patient is awake but relaxed.

Oral sedation: A pill (Halcion or similar) is taken an hour before treatment. This type of sedation can be light or moderate depending on the dosage of the medicine and according to the patient’s needs. This type of sedation can make the patient drowsy enough to fall asleep during the procedure.

Moderate and Deep sedation: The patient receives the sedative drug through a vein (IV), so it starts to work quickly. This method allows the anaesthetist to continually adjust the level of sedation ensuring the patient is comfortable at all times and will awaken easily when the procedure is over. Many patients report that they were unaware of anything during the process yet felt alert upon waking up.

General anaesthesia: This procedure renders a patient completely unconscious. The patient typically does not awaken until the anaesthetic wears off. We feel this procedure is most safely performed in a hospital setting.

Sleep Dentistry for Children

Children can also be given sedation especially if they are terrified of going to the dentist. Some children are unable to cooperate – sometimes out of fear – and sometimes due to an inability to follow instructions that include opening their mouths or sitting still.

Local Anaesthetic

Typically patients under sedation also receive a local anaesthetic, (freezing) which is administered by oral injections and causes numbness in the area where the dentist is working.

Can Any Dentist Administer Sedation?

Most dentists can administer minimal sedation (such as nitrous oxide or pills) and a number of dentists do give Moderate Sedation. However, at Moss Street Healthcare, Dr. Larry Kahn who is a very experienced Medical Anaesthetist and also on staff at Royal Jubilee Hospital, administers Moderate Sedation for our patients. We feel this is the safest approach.

How Safe Is Sedation Dentistry?

While there is always a risk with any procedure, including sedation, when experienced dentists or anaesthetists administer it your risks are minimal. Your dentist will always review your health history with you before undertaking any sedation procedures.

Before the procedure, you will receive a form detailing the risks of the treatment. Go over it carefully with your dentist. Ask questions if you’re unclear about any of the wording.

Moderate sedation requires that you fast beforehand. Fasting usually means at least eight hours without food and at least two hours without ingesting any liquid. Your dentist will review the process and fasting times with you, and have you sign a form indicating that you understand the risks and will comply with fasting instructions.

Don’t wait to have dental treatment because you are afraid.

Please do not put off having dental work because you are nervous or afraid. If you ignore problems like cavities, broken teeth, toothache or any other issue, you put both your oral and physical health at risk.

Your Moss Street Healthcare dental team will always reassure you, make you comfortable, and relieve you of pain and discomfort.

Please ask us about Sedation Dentistry. We will be happy to discuss if it may be “right” for you, or for your family or for friends that may wish this modality of care.

If you like what we are doing at Moss Healthcare, please tell your family and friends about us!

[i] Dr. Larry Kahn MBChB, B.Sc(Med), FRCPC, FFPMANZCA
Dr. Kahn is a Certified Independent Medical Examiner, American Board of Independent Medical Examiners and a Fellow of the Faculty of Pain Medicine, Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists. Currently, he is a Staff Anaesthesiologist at the Royal Jubilee Hospital, a Staff Pain Specialist with the Pain Program at RJH, and an Assistant Clinical Professor, Department of Anaesthesia, UBC.