How Dental Sedation Helps People with Special Needs

How Dental Sedation Helps People with Special Needs

If you care for a loved one with a disability, going to the dentist may not always seem plausible. You may feel this way if you live with a disability, too. It can be challenging for someone with a disability to sit still at a dental appointment, follow directions, or overcome fears and anxiety they may have. Dental sedation can help those with special needs get the dental care they need in a manner that is safe for the patient and the dental staff.

Not sure if it will help you or your loved one? Here’s what you need to know about different sedation options.

Laughing Gas

Laughing GasLaughing gas, also called nitrous oxide, is the most common form of dental sedation. It creates a calming effect that helps a person feel happy or giddy. It helps to calm both the mind and the body. Dentists frequently offer patients with dental phobias or a low pain threshold the use of nitrous oxide to help them relax. It’s very safe and can be used on people of all ages. When someone feel scared, anxious, or stressed out about their appointment, laughing gas can be an easy choice. However, in order to receive nitrous oxide, a patient needs to breathe through a mask.

Patients who cannot understand instructions or tolerate wearing a mask will need to consider other options. If wearing a mask causes stress, look at other alternatives.

Oral Sedation

Oral sedation involves taking a prescribed sedative medication by mouth. There are different sedatives available, with a different range of outcomes. One type may calm a patient, while another may put the patient to sleep. Oral sedatives are perfect for patients with disabilities who struggle to follow directions or are unable to sit still. Oral sedation allows the dentist to open a patient’s mouth and complete the work safely. Most oral sedatives limit the memory of the patient, so the patient will not remember being at a dentist or the procedure.

Before an oral sedation can be prescribed, your dentist will take a full medical history to determine which medication is safest — or if an alternative needs to be found. Some patients are not good candidates for oral sedation because of existing medical concerns or medication that’s been prescribed.

IV Sedation

IV SedationIV sedation creates a similar general effect as oral sedation. However, unlike oral sedation, IV sedation allows a dentist to administer a continuous dose of the sedative. This is needed when the patient may need extensive dental work and need to be relaxed for a prolonged period of time. IV sedation is perfect for patients who can’t sit still or control their movements. Patients who cannot follow directions or comprehend what is going on may also seek this form of sedation. The IV medication relaxes the patient so the dental team can safely complete a long, numerous, or complicated dental procedures at one time.

Both oral and IV sedation require that patients bring someone with them to drive them home and get instructions for post-procedure care. If you have a disability and lead an independent life, keep this in mind when you schedule your procedure.

General Anesthesia

General anesthesia, though rarely used, may be offered to individuals with special needs. It carries a greater risk than other options. General anesthesia knocks a patient out. They fall asleep and have no idea where they are or what is being done. This type of sedation is generally used for someone who cannot sit upright, tolerate other forms of sedation, or for disabled patient and need lengthy dental procedures.

This form of sedation is not suggested lightly and requires a medical team to monitor the patient for the duration of the procedure. In many cases, it’s only available in a hospital.


If you or a loved one has a disability that makes dental appointments difficult, look for a dentist in Phoenix offering dental sedation. Every patient is evaluated to determine the best sedation option for them. At Dental Brothers, we create appropriate treatment plans to make sure everyone gets the dental care they need. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.