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Who is Sedation ​good for?

Dental sedation is a safe, effective way to complete dental treatment if you are: 

  • anxious or phobic, 
  • difficult to anaesthetise, 
  • a gagger, or
  • have a movement disorder such that you can't sit still in the chair. 

It is also a great way to relieve the discomfort of uncomfortable procedures, such as extractions, wisdom teeth removal, root canal treatment, implants or other surgical procedures.

How long can I have sedation for?

You are able to reliably have a sedation appointment of up to two hours duration (or 90 minutes if you are over 65years old). 

For longer appointments, recovery times and risk of adverse outcomes increase. 

Proposed procedures over these times would only be considered after careful review of the procedure, your medical history, and consideration for breaks, depth of sedation or anxiety relief required, and depend on your ongoing safety, cooperation, comfort, and safe doses of local anaesthetic (numb) and sedation drugs being used. 

Pre-planned halt points would be planned if the procedure is taking longer than anticipated.

In this case, the procedure may be paused at an appropriate point and completed on another day if it turns out that it cannot be safely and comfortably be completed.

What is sedation like?

You will feel very relaxed, comfortable and sleepy, and it changes you from someone who can’t stand the thought of the procedure into someone very happy and easily able to cruise through the procedure. 

The sedatives cause amnesia, so from your point of view, the appointment will be over before you know it. 

It's common to doze off - like you are snoozing in front of the TV; so you still know the TV is on, you know what show is on, but you are not listening to it or following it (it's like we are on the TV - you know we are there, you know we are beavering away, but it doesn't hurt or worry you at all). 

You can still give us a little cooperation with some encouragement, for example to tip your head, open your mouth or check you are nice and numb. You will still be able to breathe, swallow and cough for yourself - so we don't need a breathing machine like in a general anaesthetic.

Local anaesthesia (LA) is still given (after you are sedated) to treat the discomfort of the procedure. The sedation enhances it's effect, making it excellent if you have had trouble getting numb in the past. And because you are not out cold, we can still check you are numb, and you can let us know (give us a wave) if it needs a little more or if you are having any troubles at all.

Can everyone have sedation?

To have dental sedation in an outpatient setting (a dental surgery, not a hospital), you need to be reasonably fit and healthy, able to communicate with, understand and cooperate with us, be able to recover in a reasonable time and get safely home, as we don't have a ward at the dentist to put you in to recover.

Some patients are safest being treated by specialists, and possibly in a hospital. These would include:

Children (a specialist paediatric dentist can best assess how to care for them and assess if General Anaesthesia (GA) is needed)

Special needs patients (eg. moderate to severe intellectual disability) are often best cared for by a special needs dentist who is set up to care for those patients can best assess their level of care, and if GA is needed.

The frail / elderly / those with complex medical conditions are best treated in hospital with specialist anaesthetist who are trained to manage sick patients and where adequate recovery facilities are in place. Often an overnight or extended recovery period is required and cannot be provided at the dentist.  

If you are wheelchair bound, or otherwise not ambulant,  moving you in and out of the dental chair and getting you safely home afterwards is difficult. If adequate lifting and carrying support is not available, treatment in a hospital is prudent.

Some extreme phobics will still need General Anaesthesia if they cannot bear the thought of any amount of consciousness at all during the procedure. Although they usually do well under sedation, they often cancel or back out at the last minute due to fear– wasting everyone’s time.

If General Anaesthesia or being completely knocked out is required, it needs to be done under the care of a specialist anaesthetist in a hospital or day surgery, not in a Dental Surgery.

If you are not sure if you, your loved one or your patient is suitable for outpatient sedation, please give us a call to discuss. We can also advise on suitable points of referral in your area.

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