Sedation Dentistry

Some people would do just about anything to avoid a visit to the dentist. Even though dental procedures generally aren't painful, just being examined can make people feel stressed. Most people can live with having some dental anxiety, but for those with dental phobia, the thought of a dental visit can be terrifying. Luckily, dental anxiety and phobia is treatable. Drs. Bruce, Ririe and Pothier offer sedation dentistry services in Boise to help treat patients with dental anxiety.

What is Sedation Dentistry?

Sedated Patient

Sedation dentistry involves the use of medications to help patients relax during dental procedures. Dental sedation can help patients suffering from various levels of dental anxiety and phobia to have a pleasant experience during their appointment. There are various other situations besides dental anxiety in which sedation may be a good option as well. Some of these include difficulty keeping your mouth open for long periods of time, extensive or more complex treatment needs, or simply a desire to minimize time in the chair and the number of visits to completion. Sedation dentistry is also a routinely used and ideal option for wisdom teeth extractions in young patients.

What types of sedation are used during dental appointments?

There are various options available depending on the level of anxiety and patient preference. Our dentists will review all the options with you and help you decide which option would be best.

Laughing Gas

Probably the most common form of sedation in the dental office is nitrous oxide, or "laughing gas." Nitrous oxide does not put you to sleep, but can be effective at reducing your anxiety about a dental procedure. It is very safe and provided in most dental offices.

Oral Sedation

The next type of sedation comes in the form of a pill or liquid that you take orally. This is called enteral or oral sedation. Like local anesthetics, oftentimes it is used in combination with nitrous oxide. You may still be awake, but less nervous about the dental work.

IV Sedation

Intravaneous (IV) or conscious sedation is another anti-anxiety technique where the sedative is administered through an intravenous site. This technique allows the dentist to provide a deeper level of sedation. Although you will still be awake, you will be significantly less aware, more relaxed, and often have no recollection of the appointment. The process requires recovery time after you leave the office.

General Anesthesia

General anesthesia is a form of sedation where the patient is asleep for the entire procedure and is usually done in a hospital setting or an oral surgeon's office. It involves using drugs that are directly injected into a vein, along with the possible inhalation of a gaseous anesthetic. A thorough recovery time is required before leaving.

Is additional training required for dentists to offer sedation services?

All of our dentists and hygienists are qualified to administer nitrous oxide. Other types of sedation require additional training, equipment, and emergency supplies. Idaho, as in most states, requires dentists to have a sedation license to perform these techniques. Our dentists can provide oral sedation, and Dr. Rosa Pothier is specially trained and licensed to offer IV sedation dentistry in Boise.

Dr. Rosa Pothier

Dr. Rosa Pothier

Following graduation from UNLV School of Dental Medicine, Dr. Pothier completed an optional and competitive Advanced Education in General Dentistry program which has a built in conscious sedation component. This additional year of discipline included rigorous didactic instruction, medical emergency training, and a minimum of 25 live patient cases under the direct supervision and guidance of a board certified oral surgeon. This surpassed the requirements set by the Idaho State Board of Dentistry for licensure in moderate sedation.

Since then, Dr. Rosa has also completed multiple continuing education courses and had periodic re-evaluations by representatives of the Idaho State Board as part of the protocol for being a sedation provider. Her busy ongoing clinical experience with sedation through the years has greatly increased her appreciation for the various facets of anxiety as well as given her valuable insight into how to adequately use sedation options in conjunction with a caring demeanor and quality dentistry to help patients achieve their personal dental goals. 

Conscious sedation may be the option of choice in a wide variety of clinical situations. The majority of patients we treat have moderate to severe anxiety stemming from negative dental past experiences or other dental phobias. In these cases, sedation is usually the best option in order to facilitate quick and comfortable treatment leading to decreased dental fear over time. Though surgical procedures are most commonly associated with the need for sedation, some patients opt to go this route for all needed treatment including fillings and cleanings depending on their individual goals and level of anxiety.

For those who may be considering sedation but are uncertain and would like more information, the best place to start is by scheduling an initial consultation. At this visit, we can explore your desires and concerns as well as discuss possible treatment and sedation options tailored to your individual needs.