Sedation Dentistry. Our Calgary Dentist Answers Your Questions.

Sedation Dentistry. Our Calgary Dentist Answers Your Questions.

By Advance Your Health Dental | Dr. Dirk Thompson, D.D.S. | Calgary Dentist

It is not unusual for patients to express some level of anxiety at the thought of having to see their Calgary dentist for a dental appointment.  Fortunately, there are several options available to address this dental anxiety in most patients.  One of these options is sedation dentistry.  But what exactly is sedation dentistry and how do you know if sedation dentistry is right for you?


Sedation dentistry involves sedating a patient so a patient can undergo dental treatment in a more relaxed and comfortable state.  The level of sedation that can be achieved depends upon a variety of factors, including how well the patient responds to a particular sedative drug, the particular type of sedation medication administered and the mode of administration.  There are several types of sedation, including oral sedation, oral sedation with nitrous oxide, IV sedation and a general anaesthetic.  At the office of Advance Your Health Dental, our Calgary dentist offers his patients both oral sedation and IV sedation.  Dr. Dirk Thompson administers the oral sedation at the dental office, and for IV sedation, a visiting general dentist who is duly qualified with the appropriate permit from the Alberta Dental Association & College attends at our dentist’s office and administers the IV sedation.


For most patients, oral sedation is a good option where the goal is to be more relaxed and comfortable during dental treatment.  Depending upon the dentist’s office and the individual needs of the patient, a variety of oral sedative drugs can be used to achieve a relaxed and comfortable state, including such drugs as Triazolam and/or Ativan.  It is important to note that oral sedation is not meant to place the patient in a deep sedative state like a general anaesthetic or even IV sedation.  These types of sedation achieve a deeper level of sedation than oral sedation.  Although some patients do fall asleep during oral sedation and report not being totally aware of the treatment or even not recalling the dental treatment at all, oral sedation is not meant to completely “knock out” a patient.  During oral sedation, the patient is minimally sedated and should be able to respond to verbal commands and, if they fall asleep, be easily awoken when prompted.  Oral sedation is merely meant to relax the patient with the goal of relieving their dental anxiety.  It should be noted that individual patients respond differently to oral sedation and, in some cases, the oral sedation medication can be ineffective and not acquire the desired level of sedation.

Prior to your oral sedation appointment, you will be provided with oral sedation instructions which outline what to expect during your oral sedation dentistry appointment.  The instructions will also outline fasting instructions that must be followed the day of your appointment to ensure your safety during your oral sedation appointment. 

During your oral sedation appointment, the oral sedation medication will be administered to you by our Calgary dentist, Dr. Dirk Thompson, after all necessary steps and examinations have taken place to ensure your safety during the sedation dental appointment and to ensure that you have a complete understanding of the risks and benefits associated with oral sedation. Prior to being sedated, you will be asked to complete a medical/dental questionnaire and sign consent forms acknowledging that you are aware of the process of sedation dentistry, and you have asked Dr. Dirk Thompson any questions you may have regarding sedation dentistry.  

During your sedation dental appointment, your vital signs will be continually monitored with a pulse oximeter and one of our sedation team members will be in continuous attendance with you until you are ready for discharge. After your dental treatment has been completed, you will only be discharged once you have sufficiently recovered from the oral sedation medication.  It is important to also note that you will also only be discharged into the care of your appointed adult escort.  Both you and your appointed adult escort will be provided with post-sedation instructions to ensure a safe recovery from your sedation dentistry appointment.  For your safety, under no circumstances will you be permitted to leave our dental office without an appointed adult escort.  You will also not be permitted to take a cab or bus home by yourself, and of course, you will be prohbited from driving home yourself.

After your sedation dentistry appointment, you should plan to take at least the next day off to allow yourself adequate time to fully recover from the sedation medication and the dental treatment.  You should not make any important decisions within at least the first 24 hours following your sedation dentistry appointment, and you should not operate any motor vehicle or machinery, look after small children, take any examinations, operate a stove or oven or cook for at least 24 hours after your appointment or until you have completely recovered from the sedation medication, whichever is later.


IV sedation is a type of sedation that is accomplished with IV sedative medication.  IV sedation is a much deeper (moderate) level of sedation than oral sedation and requires a dentist with a special permit to administer the IV sedation.  At the dental office of Advance Your Health Dental, Dr. Dirk Thompson uses a visiting general dentist with a permit from the Alberta Dental Association & College to administer IV sedation.


The first step is deciding whether oral sedation or IV sedation is a proper fit for your particular dental and health needs is to first make an appointment with your Calgary dentist to review all of the sedation dentistry options and ensure that you are an appropriate candidate for sedation dentistry.  To do this, our dentist, Dr. Dirk Thompson, will conduct a thorough review of not only your dental health history, but also your overall health history.  Dr. Dirk Thompson will review any previous and current health issues, including your current state of health, any medications you are on, any allergies you have, and discuss whether you have had any unfavourable reactions to any sedative medication in the past. If you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant, you are not a candidate for sedation dentistry and you must postpone any sedation dentistry until after your pregnancy. During your consultation dental appointment, Dr. Dirk Thompson will also thoroughly explain the pros and cons of each type of sedation dentistry, together with their benefits and risks.

Although many patients feel that the minimal level of sedation generally acquired by oral sedation is sufficient, some patients do request that a deeper (moderate) level of sedation be achieved, in which case IV sedation may be a better choice. It may also be the preferred choice if you have an allergy to the oral sedation medication, or if you have had any prior difficulties with local anaesthetic or oral sedation, including being unable to be adequately sedated with oral medication. 

With both oral sedation dentistry and IV sedation dentistry, a wide range of dental procedures may be accomplished including dental fillings, dental extractions including wisdom teeth extractions, dental implants, bone grafts, as well as dental crowns and veneers.  You may wish to consider either oral IV sedation if you:

  • have numerous dental issues you wish to address in one visit
  • have trouble keeping your mouth open for extended periods of time or if you have limited jaw opening
  • your dental fear or anxiety is preventing you from proceeding with required or desired dental treatment
  • if you have a sensitive gag reflex or if you have very sensitive teeth

If you have any questions regarding whether you are a candidate for either oral sedation dentistry or IV sedation dentistry, please call our Calgary dentist at 403.283.4252 and one of our friendly team members would be happy to speak with you or schedule a consultation appointment with Dr. Dirk Thompson at our Calgary dentist office.  We are conveniently located in Calgary’s NW Kensington community. Call us today.  We’re here to help!

Please be advised that this blog post is for informational purposes only.  It is not to be taken or used as a substitute for dental, medical or other professional advice, treatment or diagnosis.  Always ask your dentist, physician or other healthcare professional for advice before altering your diet or healthcare routine.  Individual patient needs and oral healthcare concerns vary so please consult your dentist for more informtion about your specific dental health requirements.

Copyright: Dirk A. Thompson Professional Corporation operating as Advance Your Health Dental.  Dr. Dirk A. Thompson, D.D.S., is a general dentist in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

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