Sedation dentistry or sleep dentistry is an excellent option for patients who have dental phobias, anxiety, require extensive care, or who just want to 'check out' during their dental treatment. However, you will usually need to request sedation for dental treatment prior to the visit. Unlike in Western countries, sedation is not automatically administered (and charged for) with all dental treatments. For most dental treatments, sedation is not really necessary.
Are you a nervous dental patient or require extensive dental care? Read below to find what dental sedation options are available for you!
Local anesthesia (numbing or freezing) is always used for dental treatments that can cause any pain or discomfort, often in combination with some type of sedation. The dental treatment site will be anesthetized so that you do not feel any pain or discomfort during your care.
For patients who have dental phobias or anxiety, orally administered sedation is an excellent option and very widely available. Oral sedatives are safe and inexpensive. Medication usually costs about $10. Medications such as Valium can be provided to calm nerves and provide you a worry-free dental experience. Oral sedatives are widely available with dentists worldwide and can be requested at the office or purchased (often without need for a prescription) at a local pharmacy nearby. Oral sedatives will not completely knock you out - you will still be conscious - but they do provide mental calm and tranquility to quell nerves during treatment. Some patients are relaxed enough by oral sedatives to fall asleep during treatment.
IV (intravenous) sedation or deep conscious sedation is a highly effective method of sedation for your dental care with a dentist abroad. Sedative medications are administered into the bloodstream under the care of a licensed anesthesiologist - you remain alert enough to respond to simple instructions which may be helpful to the oral surgeon - however you will remember almost nothing about the dental treatment. This is much safer than general anesthesia. A medical evaluation with the anesthesiologist will need to be done prior to commencing care to ensure that you are a good candidate for this type of sedation. Sedation and treatment can usually be scheduled for the next day. IV sedation will likely cost several hundred dollars to administer since an anesthesiologist must be available to provide this treatment.
Gas Sedation (Nitrous Oxide):
Nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, is used to induce a state of relaxation. A local anesthetic will be administered in combination with nitrous oxide to eliminate pain and worry. In Western countries, this is the most commonly used type of dental sedation. Often, the patient will fall asleep during treatment under and have no recollection of the dental care. Nitrous oxide dental sedation is available at select dental offices globally. Gas sedation usually costs about $50-$150 or so per hour.
With general anesthesia you are completely sedated during surgery. This must be administered in a hospital setting under care of an anesthesiologist. It is rather expensive and generally unnecessary unless full facial surgical reconstructions are undertaken. This option is generally not available abroad, though only a very select few patients would have legitimate reason to pursue this type of dental sedation. Oral sedatives, IV sedation, and laughing gas sedation are much more widely available, safer, and less expensive.
Oral Conscious Sedation:
"Oral conscious sedation" or “sleep dentistry” is something you may be familiar with or have been offered by your local dentist. With this type of sedation, a cocktail or several orally administered pills are provided to sedate you for treatment. Oral conscious sedation is not really anesthesia, rather, the patient is awake during treatment but generally retains no memory of the experience. This type of sedation is not generally available abroad. While it can be a safe an effective method, it is still a much debated treatment protocol in the Western countries where it is widely advertised.