What Training Does a Dentist Need to Offer Dental Sedation?

What Training Does a Dentist Need to Offer Dental Sedation?

Because of the frightening feelings that dental anxiety causes, many people with this debilitating problem often just avoid going to the dentist altogether. This is a short term solution, because, eventually, dental problems will be compounded, requiring more extensive work to rectify. To assist those who struggle with dental anxiety or just to have several procedures to be done at once, many dentists offer several sedation dentistry options. Patients can be partially or completely sedated so that the dentist can do their work without causing the patient undue stress.

If you’re considering dental sedation, you may be wondering how much training your dentist has had for these procedures. After all, sedation will affect your entire body, and you want to make sure that you are in knowledgeable hands.

Types of Sedation

Types of SedationVarious kinds of sedation medications are used in conjunction with typical pain management techniques. The dentist will still use numbing medicines in the patient’s mouth even when the patient is not fully aware of what is going on. Patients need not fear that they will be unable to respond and experiencing great pain while having a sedation dentistry procedure done.

Which type of sedation dentistry is the correct one for you depends on certain criteria. The dentist will take a medical history and talk to you before deciding which kind of sedation is best for your case. For short procedures or slight anxiety, nitrous oxide may be adequate. However, if you have extensive work to be done or intense anxiety, an IV sedation may be appropriate.

Nitrous Oxide

Nitrous oxide is also called laughing gas. Patients breathe in the nitrous oxide through a mask that fits over the face and nose. It helps the patient relax, but does not completely render the patient unconscious. Patients can  still respond to the dentist when spoken to, and they will remember what occurs in the appointment. The effects of nitrous oxide wear off fairly quickly, so patients can usually drive themselves home from the appointment.

Oral Medication

Oral medication in pill form may consist of drugs like Ativan or Valium that the patient takes before the appointment. While these medications are more effective than nitrous oxide in completely relaxing the patient, their effectiveness can be unpredictable. Sometimes patients will experience nausea or vomiting. Patients are usually somewhat responsive while under the influence of these drugs, but they are unable to drive themselves to and from the appointment.

IV Sedation

For IV sedation, the dentist delivers medication to relax the patient intravenously. You will be aware of very little while under IV sedation, but can respond somewhat if needed. The dentist will take a medical history prior to administering the IV medication, and you need to have someone drive them home from the dentist’s office. Additionally, patients should be monitored for at least 12 hours following the procedure to ensure that there will be no adverse side effects.

Training Required

Training RequiredAll dentists are typically trained in the use of nitrous oxide during their general dentistry training. However, to provide other forms of dental sedation, the dentist must undergo additional training and licensing.

Basic CPR and Medical Techniques

All dentists are trained in basic CPR and first aid techniques. However, with sedation dentistry, the dentist will more closely monitor the vital signs of the patient, watching for signs of adverse reactions.

Additional Dentistry Certificates

A general dentist may not be able to provide certain forms of dental sedation. Most states require that dentists who provide sedation dentistry undergo additional training and licensing. Also, the office must have certain equipment and emergency supplies ready and available in case something does not go according to plan.

A sedation dentist must take sedation dentistry courses in addition to their typical general dentistry courses. Also, dentists must maintain their licensure by receiving continuing education classes. These classes will keep the dentist up to date in the latest research and techniques in dental sedation. These courses will help dentists match the best drugs to the patient, keep immaculate records, monitor the vital signs of the patient, and be on alert for potential complications.  Because of the extensive training that sedation dentists undergo they will be ready for any potential complication.


Sedation dentistry in Mesa is a safe, helpful advance in dental technology. There is no need to fear dental procedures. Talk to your dentist to discuss which dental sedation option is appropriate for your situation.