Sedation “Sleep” Dentistry

Sedation techniques can induce deep relaxation—or even sleep—for patients who are interested in having a more comfortable and efficient dental experience. While fear and anxiety are often the most common reasons for sedation during dental treatment, there are several benefits associated with sedation dentistry that can make it appealing for a broad range of individuals. Our experienced dentists at Kelowna Dental Centre are highly-trained and certified to perform various types of sedation with the utmost regard for patient safety. For many patients, sedation dentistry is a game-changer, allowing them to get the dental treatment they need without the stress or discomfort sometimes associated with visiting the dentist.

To learn more about sedation dentistry at Kelowna Dental Centre, please explore the informative sections below, or contact our practice to schedule an appointment.

What Is Sedation Dentistry?

The term “sedation dentistry” is used to describe dental care performed while a patient is in a medically induced state of relaxation. There are many different sedation methods to choose from, and the technique Dr. Webster or Dr. Abel employs is based on each individual’s unique concerns, medical history, dental needs, preferences, and goals. Throughout the entire process, one’s comfort level and vital signs are monitored to ensure proper sedation levels and optimal safety. When sedation is used during dental treatment, our practice requires that you have a ride to and from the appointment as lingering effects of the medication may impair your ability to drive safely.

Who Is a Candidate for Sedation Dentistry?

Sedation dentistry offers many advantages and is appropriate for people who have an aversion to dental services because of their fear and anxiety. It is also appropriate for individuals who:

  • Have a low pain threshold
  • Struggle with sensitive teeth
  • Have a strong gag reflex
  • Need extensive/complex dental work that requires multiple treatments
  • Have time constraints or simply wish to complete treatment in less time and in fewer visits
  • Are resistant to local anaesthesia (freezing)
  • Experience distress as a result of enduring dental treatment

If any of these conditions or scenarios applies to you or someone in your care, sedation dentistry could be the key to making dental treatment less stressful and/or more efficient. To determine what kind of sedation is most appropriate for your needs, a consultation with one of our dentists is necessary. During this appointment, your dentist will perform a full evaluation and discuss which pain management and sedation options are best for you. When sedation is administered by experienced dentists like Dr. Webster or Dr. Abel, it is extremely safe.

What Types of Sedation & Anesthesia Are Available for Dentistry?

Nitrous Oxide

Nitrous oxide, commonly referred to as ‘laughing gas’ is a form of conscious sedation. The gas is easily administered by inhalation through a specialized mask that covers the nose. You will be fully awake and alert during treatment, but your feelings of fear and anxiety will be alleviated. Nitrous oxide is considered extremely safe. The sedation effect of nitrous oxide lasts only as it is administered—so you are able to come to and from your appointment on your own. Side effects occur very rarely and may include dizziness, nausea, and headaches.

Oral Conscious Sedation

Oral conscious sedation involves the ingestion of a sedative pill about an hour before dental treatment begins. Once the medication takes effect, you will enter a deep state of relaxation and may even fall asleep during treatment. Following the appointment, some residual grogginess may remain, and you will need to have a friend or family member drive you home.

Nitrous Oxide + Oral Conscious Sedation

A combination of nitrous oxide and oral conscious sedation can be very effective for certain patients who require a more intensive approach to relaxation, but do not want to undergo IV sedation or general anesthesia. The nitrous oxide and oral sedative help ensure a deeply relaxed  and comfortable state so that treatment can be completed efficiently and effectively. Transportation to and from your appointment will be necessary due to post-treatment grogginess caused by the sedative medication.

Intravenous (IV) Conscious Sedation

Intravenous (IV) sedation can provide you with significant advantages over nitrous oxide and oral conscious sedation—it can cover a wider range of your needs with greater effectiveness, flexibility, and safety. Instead of having to wait for medication in pill form to take effect, IV sedation goes directly into the bloodstream and takes immediate effect, deeply relaxing you into a conscious “twilight” state and elevating your pain threshold to boost comfort throughout your treatment. As an additional benefit, IV conscious sedation generally leads to a shorter recovery period after treatment, so that you can get back to feeling like yourself sooner.

Local Anesthesia

While local anesthesia is not technically a sedation technique, it is considered to be very safe and can be used to temporarily numb a particular area of the mouth to prevent discomfort during treatment. Local dental anesthesia differs from sedation in that it affects a small part of your body in a specific location, such as a tooth or an area of gum tissue. The application of local anesthesia does not affect your cognitive abilities, and you are able to stay awake and alert throughout treatment (unless combined with a sedative that may result in deep relaxation or sleep). Though they are few, side effects can include bruising at the injection site, numbness outside of the targeted area, and a racing heart—but these effects are temporary.

How Safe is Sedation Dentistry?

There is always a risk when being sedated; however, when administered by an experienced dentist, sedation dentistry is considered extremely safe. Patients who have obstructive sleep apnea or who are obese should consult their doctor before having sedation, as they are more likely to experience complications.

How Much Does Sedation Dentistry Cost?

The cost of sedation dentistry varies according to what method you are using, which treatment you will be getting, and how long your treatment lasts. To find out more about the cost of your specific sedation method, call to schedule a consultation with our care team.


You may consider sedation is any of the following apply to you:

  • Mild, moderate or severe dental anxiety/phobia
  • Hypersensitive gag reflex
  • Resistant to local anaesthesia (freezing)
  • Busy schedule (time contraints)
  • You require complex dental treatment
  • You tend to experience heightened sensitivity following most dental visits
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