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Sedation Dentistry

Sedation Dentistry

Is Sedation Dentistry Safe?

By Sedation Dentistry

Thankfully, sedation dentistry is a solution that can help alleviate anxiety and make dental procedures more relaxing and comfortable. If you’re hesitant about exploring the option and are wondering if sedation is safe, the answer is, yes, sedation is safe when administered by an experienced provider. 

What is Sedation Dentistry?

Sedation dentistry helps patients relax and feel at ease, so they can get dental care in a way that’s stress-free and painless. Often, sedation is mild to moderate and you’re awake during the procedure and able to answer questions and respond to commands. 

For certain situations, deep sedation is an option too. What is deep sedation dentistry? It’s where general anesthesia is administered through an IV and you’re asleep throughout the entire dental procedure.

Sedation dentistry can be a good choice for patients with:

  • Dental anxiety or a dental phobia
  • A very sensitive gag reflex 
  • Apprehension about a specific treatment 
  • Special healthcare needs (cognitive, physical or behavioral) that are aggravated by stress or make it difficult to safely undergo dental procedures
  • Significant dental concerns requiring extensive, lengthy treatment
  • A decreased response to local anesthesia

What are the Different Types of Sedation?

The type of sedation we recommend depends on a number of factors, including:

  • The type of dental procedure being performed
  • How long the dental procedure will last
  • Your anxiety levels
  • Your overall health and the medications you take

While the specific sedatives used and the offerings can vary by practice, these are the ones we offer at our office:

  • Nitrous Oxide 

Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, has been used in dentistry for over 100 years and is the most common type of sedation for kids, though it can be used for adults as well. The laughing gas is administered through a mask that covers your nose. You’ll breathe in a mixture of nitrous and oxygen and within a few minutes, you’ll feel calm and euphoric. 

Your Naperville dentist controls the amount of nitrous oxide you get, so they can deliver mild or even moderate effects, depending on your needs. Nitrous oxide is a form of conscious sedation, meaning you’ll be awake during your treatment, though your senses will be dulled. 

When the procedure is over, your dentist will have you breathe in pure oxygen to flush out the nitrous oxide. Laughing gas wears off just as quickly as it kicks in and has very few side effects, so you’ll be able to go back to school, work or daily activities after your appointment. 

  • Oral Conscious Sedation

If you choose oral sedation dentistry, your dentist will prescribe you an oral medication for reducing anxiety. Depending on the dosage, sedation can range from minimal to moderate. You’ll take the medication about an hour before your scheduled appointment. 

During your dental procedure, as the name suggests, you’ll be conscious and able to follow instructions. However, you’ll feel comfortable and relaxed. In fact, it’s common for patients to fall asleep during their visit. 

While side effects are generally minimal, you might feel sleepy after your appointment. And, because sedatives can impact your reaction time, you will need someone to drive you to and home from your visit. 

  • General Anesthesia / IV Sedation

For patients with severe dental anxiety or people undergoing oral surgical procedures, general anesthesia could be recommended. With this type of sedation, anesthesia is delivered through an IV and your vital signs are monitored throughout. 

You’ll be unconscious and have no memory of the procedure when you wake up. After your procedure, you’ll recover for several hours at the office before leaving. You will need to have a responsible adult drive you home.

Is Sedation Dentistry Safe?

How Safe is Sedation Dentistry?

Nitrous oxide and oral conscious sedation both have very good safety profiles. Most patients experience little-to-no side effects. When you visit our practice for sedation dentistry in Naperville, we’ll perform a comprehensive exam and take a detailed health and medication history to ensure you’re a good candidate and there are no contraindications. 

Our general dentists and specialists are licensed and trained in providing in-office sedation. And our state-of-the-art office is equipped with the latest technology and tools, so we’re able to carefully monitor your vitals throughout your procedure. 

How safe is IV sedation for dental work? This type of sedation is also safe but it’s essential that the dental practice has the necessary monitoring equipment, trained personnel and an anesthesiologist on-hand. The facility should also be licensed to offer it. 

At Naperville Dental Specialists, we always consider general anesthesia on a case-by-case basis. Again, we take a complete medical and medication history to ensure it will be safe for you. We also provide you with pre- and post-operative instructions to minimize the chance of complications. 

Our team follows all safety guidelines, and we have cutting-edge monitoring in place. And our board-certified professionals, including our prosthodontist and oral surgeon, have received advanced training in safe sedation. We also have a highly trained, American board-certified anesthesiologist on our team. Our anesthesiologist administers the general anesthesia.

Which Type of Dental Sedation is the Safest?

In general, conscious sedation has fewer risks than general anesthesia, but people respond differently to different types of sedation, so the form that’s safest for one person might not be ideal for you. It really depends on your medical history, the medications you are taking, your overall health and other individual factors. An experienced dentist can help you decide on the best form of sedation for your circumstances.

Weighing the Risks vs. the Benefits

As with any medical procedure, sedation dentistry involves weighing the risks vs. the benefits. If you’re not able to get the dental care you need due to anxiety, a medical condition or other circumstances, your untreated dental problems will pose a bigger risk to your oral and overall health than conscious or IV sedation dentistry.

Issues, such as tooth decay and tooth loss aren’t just painful, they also impact your ability to bite and chew, which, in turn, impacts your diet and nutrition. Oral infections, like dental abscesses, can spread to other parts of the body and, in rare cases, even be life threatening. 

Periodontal disease, or gum disease, has been tied to a number of health conditions. The inflammation of the gums and supporting bone causes jawbone loss and, eventually, tooth loss if not treated. Periodontitis, the most severe form of gum disease, is tied to adverse pregnancy outcomes, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other systemic illnesses

How Do I Prepare for Dental Sedation?

For nitrous oxide sedation and oral conscious sedation, you don’t need to do much to prepare. However, you should:

  • Have a light meal or snack and avoid eating anything heavy prior to your appointment. 
  • Call our office and let us know if you experience any changes in your health or medications.
  • Arrange to have a responsible adult accompany you to your appointment and drive you home if you are taking an oral sedation medication. 

If you’ll be undergoing IV sedation dentistry, following your pre-op instructions will help you have a safe, effective experience. While we’ll give you specific instructions for your situation, here are some general guidelines to adhere to:

  • Let our team know if you experience any changes in your health.
  • Your stomach should be empty during your anesthesia appointment. 
  • Do not eat or drink anything for at least 6 hours before your surgery.
  • Inform our team of any medications you take on a daily basis, including supplements and herbal remedies. If we give you the go-ahead to take your medication on the day of your procedure, take it with only a small sip of water.
  • Wear loose-fitting, comfortable, short-sleeved clothing and flat, comfortable shoes.
  • Do not wear jewelry, makeup or nail polish to your appointment. 
  • Take your contact lenses out before your procedure. 
  • Arrange to have a responsible adult come with you to your procedure, drive you home and stay with you while you recover afterwards. 

Where Can I Find Sedation Dentistry Near Me?

If you’re not in Illinois, we’d recommend doing some research on local sedation dentists to find someone licensed and experienced in administering the type of sedation you’re looking for. 

If you live in the Chicagoland area, we offer sedation dentistry in Naperville at our high-tech, comfortable office. With American board-certified specialists on our team, including an anesthesiologist, and modern equipment and tools, we can help you safely get the care you need. Schedule an appointment with us today!

Can a gentle dentist give me sedation or a shot in my gums that I can’t feel?

By Sedation Dentistry

Will I need a shot in my gums? I’m sweating trying to find a gentle dentist or one who does sedation and can fit me in their schedule. There is a bump on my gums at one of my bottom left molar teeth. Yesterday, I sterilized a needle and stuck the bump with it. A bunch of yellow pus came out. It hurts pretty bad and the bump is seeming just to fill up with pus again. It’s been 4 years since I’ve been to a dentist. I have tried to avoid the dentist for this bump on my gums, but I might not have a choice. Will a dentist have to give me a shot in my gum? If I can find a gentle dentist will they be able to make it absolutely pain free?? Thanks. Jon

Jon – The bump on your gums that you described is an abscess that is caused by an infection. The infection will not go away on its own. It needs to be treated by a dentist. Sedation dentistry will help you get the treatment you need

After you are sedated, the dentist will clean the area around your tooth and numb your gum. There is no need to worry, though. A gentle dentist will use topical anesthetic or a hand-held pulsating device to numb your gum and give you a pain-free injection. The injection will relieve your pain and prevent you from feeling pain that may otherwise result from the dental procedure.

If there is an infection in your tooth, a root canal treatment will remove it. After that, the tooth will be protected with a dental crown. It is important that you get help right away to treat the infection and avoid further pain and discomfort.

Find a Gentle Dentist Who Offers Sedation Dentistry

You should speak to a gentle dentist about your anxiety. Sedation dentistry can help you relax during dental visits so you can get the treatment you need.

Nitrous oxide – This is also called laughing gas. During your appointment, you can breathe it in to relax.

Oral conscious sedation – A dentist can give you anti-anxiety medication to take before your appointment. You will be drowsy and relaxed.

Learn more about these options on our sedation dentistry page.

Don’t delay in getting the bump on your gums treated. A gentle dentist can use his or techniques and sedation dentistry make your experience pain free.

This post is sponsored by Naperville Dental Specialists, the office of Dr. Anthony LaVacca.

Can I sleep off some of my sedation at the dentist’s office before I drive home?

By Sedation Dentistry

I need sedation dentistry but I don’t want to ask anyone to drive me to my dental appointment. I really don’t want anyone to know about the appointment and there really isn’t anyone I would feel comfortable asking anyway. If I get sedation, will I be able to stay at the office until it wears off? How long will it take to get out of my system? Thanks. Kyle.


After sedation dentistry, most people are drowsy for the rest of the day. You will be barred from driving for the rest on the same day that you receive sedation.

Exactly how long you will be drowsy depends on the medication used and how your body reacts to it. In advance of your dental procedure, a sedation dentist will discuss your dental procedure and the level of your anxiety. Those factors, along with the types of sedation that your dentist offers, will determine which medication is used.

A sedation dentist is responsible for your safety. Although you can briefly rest after your appointment, you won’t be allowed to rest or sleep in the office with the goal of driving yourself home. It’s simply not safe, and it’s definitely not worth the risk. Your dentist will recommend that you go home and rest. If there is no one that you want to ask to drive you to and from your appointment, consider getting private transportation.

It’s best to have a consultation with a sedation dentist first to find out what is involved in your treatment and how many appointments are required. It will help you determine the best way to travel to and from your dental appointments. Your dentist will require that you have transportation before you receive sedation, so be prepared to make appropriate arrangements.

This post is sponsored by Naperville dentist Dr. Anthony LaVacca.

Is sedation dentistry more expensive than traditional dentistry?

By Sedation Dentistry

I hate sitting in the dentist’s chair in pain or aware of what’s going on inside my mouth. Now that I need dental implants, I’ve decided to look for a dentist who offers sedation dentistry. But is the sedation aspect of it much more expensive local anesthetic? Is sedation dentistry covered by regular dental insurance? – Kevin

Kevin –In advance of the dental procedure, sedation medication is administered to keep you calm and relaxed during your dental treatment.

Local anesthetic is used to numb the area where the dental work will be done on your tooth or teeth. Local anesthetic will still be used for numbing purposes during your dental procedure. So, there is one expense for local anesthetic, another for sedation medication, and remaining fees for your dental implant procedure. The cost of sedation dentistry can depend on which type of sedation you receive and the length of time it is required for your dental procedure.

Some insurance companies provide benefits for a limited number of hours of sedation during your dental procedure. You would be responsible for the balance if sedation dentistry is required beyond the maximum number of hours allowed by your insurance. For example, insurance may cover up to two hours of sedation. If your dental procedure requires more than two hours of sedation, you will be responsible for the balance. Contact your insurance provider or your employer’s human resources department to find out if sedation dentistry is an allowable expense for your plan.

This post is sponsored by Naperville implant dentist and board-certified prosthodontist Dr. Anthony LaVacca.


What amount of dental work can be done in one sitting?

By Sedation Dentistry

I have a TON of dental work that needs to be done. I need several root canals. I also have a few cavities and need some cosmetic work done. I don’t want this to drag out and have to keep taking time off work. How much work can I get done in one appointment?

Bill K. -Draper, Utah


You will get a variety of answers to this question depending on the dentist you choose. Each dentist has a different comfort level when it comes to this issue. You will find that dentists who do sedation dentistry are comfortable with the most amount of work in one sitting. You can easily find one by doing a google search for “draper sedation dentist”.

If you are not comfortable with sedation dentistry, then it also depends on your endurance level with treatment. If you are not bothered by dental treatment, you could do as much as four hours at a time and get a great deal done depending on how fast your dentist works.

Something else to bear in mind.  It can take a general or cosmetic dentist one and a half to two hours to do a molar root canal, but a root canal specialist (an endodontist) is able to get the whole thing done in an hour without a problem. So if your root canals are all on front teeth, you’re fine with a general dentist. However, if they are on molars you’ll need a specialist to get several done in one appointment.

This blog is brought to you by Naperville cosmetic dentist Dr. La Vacca.


Novocain doesn’t work for me

By Sedation Dentistry

I have a very high tolerance for novocain, so dental procedures are a complete nightmare. I need to get a tooth extracted and wondered if there is anything I can do.

Jeanne S.- San Francisco


Most people who have a high tolerance for novocain, it is because they are nervous about the procedure. The adrenaline causes the Novocain to wear off quicker. There is a solution though. First, you want to go to a dentist that practices sedation dentistry.  What you need is something to relax you enough to allow the novocain to take affect. There are a couple of options. You could take nitrous oxide, or an oral sedation pill. Either one will give you the edge you need to get through the procedure pain free.

This blog is brought to you by Naperville Cosmetic Dentist Dr. La Vacca.

I’d like to know how much dental work can be done in one visit.

By Sedation Dentistry, Teeth Whitening

I’m in need of extensive dental work including a tooth that needs shortening and whitening, 7 root canals, and 3 cavities. I’m trying to avoid making several appointments with my dentist. Can you tell me how much work can be done in one visit?

Jake from Carson City


Each dentist is different regarding how much work they’re willing to do in one sitting. You’ll need to ask your dentist what he or she is willing to do for you.

Dentists that provide sedation dentistry are often the ones willing to do more work in one sitting. Check with your dentist to see if sedation is available, and if not, then you’ll need to find another general dentist or cosmetic dentist that offers it.

If you want to remain with your current dentist, then the amount of work depends on how long you can withstand the visit. It is possible to sit  through a four-hour appointment if you feel at ease with dentistry. A lot can be done in this amount of time if your dentist is capable of working fast.

Providing there are no complications with your front tooth, your dentist should be able to do the tooth whitening and shortening.

Your dentist should be able to complete your seven root canal treatments in one sitting as long as they are on your front teeth. If you require root canal treatments on your molars, and you prefer minimal appointments, then you could go to an endodontist. Endodontists are root canal specialists with the ability to perform a molar root canal in one hour, while a general dentist can take up to two hours per molar.

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