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Dental Sedation // IV Sedation, Nitrous Oxide, Oral Sedatives

Qualifications for Dental Sedation

It's important to note that most dentists may only administer nitrous oxide or tablet sedatives.  However, only a very small percentage of dentists are properly certified to administer more complex deep sedation and general anesthesia techniques following certification by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA).  When a dentist lacks proper certification, some dentists elect to use a dentist anesthesiologist trained to give all levels of sedation and anesthesia.  In addition, the State of Indiana Dental Board carefully regulates the use of sedation techniques in order to permit qualified dentists to perform sedation. Dr. Coulter is highly experienced and fully qualified to perform complex deep sedation.

Is Dental Sedation Generally Safe?

While Dental Sedation is safe for most patients, those who are obese or having obstructive sleep apnea should advise Dr. Coulter in order to avoid any potential for complications associated with anesthesia.  Before a procedure involving the use of Dental Sedation, Dr. Coulter will review the medications you are taking and your medical history in order to determine if you are a good candidate for sedation relative to your age and general health.  

After the above has been completed, Dr. Coulter will provide you a summary which details your procedure and any attendant risks. Dr. Coulter will review the procedure with you and answer any questions you might have before scheduling your procedure.

During your procedure, Dr. Coulter monitors your vital signs during the procedure as per American Dental Association's guidelines, including provisioning for oxygen, artificial ventilation, and certain drugs intended to reverse the effects of sedation if needed.

Also important to note for patients suffering from anxiety related to dental procedures, Dental Sedation techniques are ideal for patients having a low threshold to pain, have extremely sensitive teeth, suffer from gag reflex conditions, have difficulty with extended periods in a dental chair, or for those requiring significant time to complete their needed dental procedures or are otherwise difficult to numb.

Dental Sedation Effects

Many people refer to Dental Sedation as “sleep dentistry”. However, most patients are usually awake with the exception of those who require general anesthesia. The levels of sedation used include (i) Minimal Sedation (awake and relaxed); (ii) Moderate Sedation (conscious sedation, limited memory of procedure); and, (iii) Deep Sedation (conscious and can be awakened).

Types of Dental Sedation

The following is a general overview of the types of Dental Sedation used by Dr. Coulter: 

Inhaled Sedation. You breathe nitrous oxide ("laughing gas") which is combined with oxygen through a mask that's placed over your nose to induce deep relaxation. Dr. Coulter controls the amount of sedation you receive.  While the effectiveness of this type of procedure varies, this form of Dental Sedation can enable you to drive yourself home after the procedure.

Oral Sedation. Depending on the total dose given, oral sedation can range from minimal to moderate in effect is often administered in pill form to induce a drowsy effect, although while the patient remains awake. A larger dose may be given to produce moderate sedation, with most people becoming groggy enough from moderate oral sedation to actually fall asleep during the procedure and awakened with a gentle shake. The patient is required to have a qualified driver when leaving the premises to ensure safe travel.

Moderate IV Sedation. A sedative drug is delivered through a vein to work more quickly. This method allows Dr. Coulter to continually adjust the level of dental sedation needed.

PICC Line Administration of IV Sedatives. For patients with a medical condition that requires a PICC line for administering chemotherapy, medications or other fluids, Dr. Coulter is able to conveniently administer the IV sedative by means of their PICC line under the appropriate circumstances.


For additional technical details, see: Guidelines for the Use of Sedation and General Anesthesia by Dentists

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