Sedation Dentistry in Calgary

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My first visit was good, but my second visit was great! Dr Silver and her staff have made me feel relaxed at the dentist for the first time in my entire life, and that is saying a lot, as I have been visiting the dentist regularly since I was a child. It’s the first time I feel someone truly understood my (mainly irrational) fears of the dentist!

— Carol Thompson, ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ Google Review

Do you have dental anxiety?

Do you have a hard time feeling relaxed in a dentist chair? Would you rather endure a painful or annoying toothache than step foot inside a dental office? You shouldn’t have to feel this anxious about the dentist. That’s why our team offers a relaxing environment and medical options to support dental treatments for those who suffer from dental anxiety.

Sedation dentistry can be used for:

  • Patients with sensitive teeth
  • Patients that have a low pain threshold
  • Patients that need a large amount of dental work in one visit
  • Patients with a sensitive gag reflex
  • Patients that have difficulty sitting still in the chair
  • Patients that have had previous traumatic dental experiences

Contact our team today to find out if sedation dentistry is right for you!

What is sedation dentistry & how does it work?

Sedation dentistry is often a gentle and effective way to deal with emotional discomforts, enabling you to enjoy the benefits of dental services without the fear or anxiety that may accompany them.

Using time-tested methods, dental sedation is capable of producing feelings of relaxation without the risks associated with general anesthesia. The most common dental sedation procedure performed at Southcentre Dental Clinic is oral sedation. This method has proven effective in treating even the most severe dental phobias and is suitable for nearly all of our adult patients.


This step depends on the type of sedation procedure you are getting. For nitrous oxide, do not eat half an hour before your appointment, but water is ok. For oral sedation, you will need a consult prior to your appointment to ensure that you are medically fit and a good candidate. If you are approved, no solid foods 6 hours prior to your appointment, no liquids for 3 hours prior, and no alcohol 24 hrs prior.

It’s also important for you to take no sedatives or narcotics, including Tylenol 3’s, 48 hours prior and you must be accompanied by a responsible party to and from the appointment.


We’ll administer the type of oral sedation chosen for you, whether that be nitrous oxide or an oral sedation pill. We’ll walk you through the steps when you arrive for your appointment. With oral sedation, for example, you will be given a mild sedative in pill form about an hour prior to your dental procedure. The medication in this pill will be strong enough to help you feel completely relaxed, yet gentle enough to allow you to remain conscious and able to respond to your dentist’s instructions.

Sedation Will Take Effect

Sedation will begin to take effect after it’s administered. You’ll begin to feel extremely calm. Rest assured that we will not start any procedures until you are feeling completely relaxed.

After Your Appointment

With some sedation options, you’ll feel completely back to normal after the procedure, but for stronger sedation options you will need to be accompanied by a responsible party and even take the day off of work — but, you’ll be okay to work the following day. The different options and the recovery process will be discussed with you prior to your dental appointment when sedation will take place.

Feel relaxed during your next dental appointment!

Feel calm and relaxed before, during, and after nearly any dental procedure.

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What are the benefits of sedation dentistry?

Sedation dentistry offers a number of great benefits that help patients that suffer from dental anxiety to maintain routine trips to the dentist, improve their oral health, and avoid costly, sometimes painful problems in the future. Some more benefits include:

Help Eliminate Dental Anxiety

Sedation dentistry can help relieve dental anxiety on the spot to help patients relax and complete the dental work they need in a safe and timely manner. You’ll begin to feel more confident about dental visits knowing you won’t feel anxious in the chair!

Encourage Routine Dental Appointments

When you feel less anxious about the dentist and more confident with frequent visits, you’re more likely to develop healthier dental care habits. Routine dental appointments can also help you avoid future costs for larger procedures such as fillings or root canals that come up when teeth aren’t cleaned properly or toothaches aren’t tended to in time.

Safer Than General Anesthesia

Sedation dentistry doesn’t put you to sleep, therefore you forgo any of the potential complications that may arise from general anesthesia. With sedation dentistry, you’ll be awake, just in a deeply relaxed state with no need for needles or tubes to administer the sedation.

Complete More Complex Dental Procedures In Just One Visit

Normally, when patients are too anxious during dental appointments it means complex procedures may have to be split into multiple visits. With sedation dentistry, patients feel more comfortable and relaxed, and therefore, are able to complete more complex procedures in one sitting. This way problems are fixed faster to help our patients find pain relief — fast!

Levels Of Dental Sedation

There are four levels of sedation to consider:

  • Inhaled Sedation: Commonly known as “laughing gas,” this type of sedation is administered by breathing nitrous oxide. A mask is placed over your nose, helping you relax as you breathe the gas. Your sedation dentist in Calgary has the ability to manage the amount of nitrous oxide you receive. Typically, the sedation effect wears off quickly after the mask is removed.
  • IV Sedation: A form of moderate sedation can be administered through an IV in the dental office. IV sedation is not as common as inhaled sedation or oral medication. As with nitrous oxide, the dentist has the control to make continual adjustments to the sedation level.
  • Oral Sedation: A dosage of medication can be given via a pill or a drink for children. Usually, the sedation medication is administered an hour before the treatment. You will likely feel drowsy but still be awake and relaxed. If moderate sedation is needed, then a larger dose can be administered.
  • General Anesthesia: In some cases, patients choose general anesthesia that makes them totally unconscious. This sedation is typically limited to hospitals or a specialty sedation dentist in Calgary with specific accreditation to provide deep sedation.

Am I a good candidate for dental sedation?

When discussing the treatment, our sedation dentist will ask you the following questions to ensure you're a good candidate:
  • Do you have high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, or respiratory problems? If so, you may need to get treated before opting for dental sedation.
  • Do you have obstructive sleep apnea, or are you overweight or obese? Dental sedation might not be a good option if you are.
  • What types of medications or vitamins are you currently taking? Most procedures need you to stop taking any medicines one day before. To make sure you don’t develop any complications, check with your general healthcare provider. Let us know all kinds of medication you’re taking including vitamins, supplements, and herbal preparations.
  • How old are you? Your age will also influence the decision about the kind of sedation we give you.
  • Do you have any allergies? In case you have any known allergies, the right kind of sedation is essential to avoid possible reactions.
  • Are you pregnant? Unless you need urgent dental care, it is preferable to wait until you enter the second trimester to get treatment.
  • Do you smoke or drink excessive alcohol? Be sure to answer truthfully as your recovery can depend on it.


The most common type of dental sedation we practice relies on oral sedation instead of intravenous drugs. About an hour before your dental sedation, Dr. Silver will give you a mild sedative. Once the medication kicks in, you will be sedated enough to feel completely relaxed, but you’ll remain conscious and comfortable enough to still answer questions asked by the dentist during your procedure. Rest assured that we will not start any treatment until you are feeling relaxed.

Sedation can be used for any dental procedure. We don’t want fear to be an obstacle to receiving the care you want or need. We have patients who receive sedation for routine dental cleanings all the way to more complex procedures such as veneers and implants.

Sedation dentistry uses different types of medication, depending on the type of sedative approach being used. For instance, inhalation sedation with laughing gas uses a mixture of pure oxygen and nitrous gas. As you inhale them together, the mild analgesic helps you feel relaxed within a few minutes. For oral sedation, a prescription sedative is taken by mouth (usually in a pill form, but sometimes a liquid) about an hour before your treatment is scheduled to start. This type of sedative medication does take a few hours to totally wear off, so you’ll need to have someone drive you home after a procedure.

It’s important to remember to let all dentists know if you have any food or drug allergies (including eggs). You’ll also need to provide a list of any prescription or over-the-counter medication that you’re taking so that they can be sure nothing interacts with the sedative they plan to use. Since there are multiple sedation options available, be sure to ask your dentist which one you’ll be using and why.

Dental sedation costs can range from a one-time affordable fee that’s added on to your routine visit, to a more complex process that involves additional charges related to the sedation process used.

If the sedation is covered by your dental insurance, you may not have to pay anything out of pocket. Usually, a portion is included in your benefits and we can estimate the total costs involved at the time of your exam. At that point, we’ll provide you with a detailed treatment plan that lists out itemized fees related to each planned procedure, including sedation costs.

What a lot of people don’t realize is that getting sedation can help them save money in the long run, because they’re no longer putting off the treatment that they need. Feeling comfortable enough to go ahead and catch up on the care their teeth require will keep treatment expenses to a minimum, compared to problems compounding and becoming more expensive to treat down the road. When you think of it that way, it’s like the sedation helps pay for itself!

Absolutely! Dental sedation makes it easier for people to sit through longer procedures, overcome dental anxiety and phobia, or book multiple treatments in a single appointment.

Depending on the type of sedation being used, you can also ask for a sedative to be added to your appointment at the last minute. Laughing gas is quickly reversible and safe enough to use on all ages, so it’s a common add-on for routine dental appointments. Nitrous oxide sedation only takes a few minutes to start working, so you can even ask for it at the last minute if you feel like you would benefit from it.

However, deeper sedation (such as those using oral sedatives) needs to be planned in advance. If you want to make sure that you’re as comfortable as possible, or have a heightened fear of the dentist, then oral sedation is likely the best choice. Be sure to let us know that you’re considering sedation during your exam so that we can determine if it’s appropriate for your medical needs.

For routine fillings, you usually won’t need anything more than a bit of local anesthetic (numbing medication) to numb the tooth that has a cavity. But for those of us who get nervous about injections or trips to the dentist in general, sedation can help to take the edge off. That being said, you likely won’t need something that’s so strong that it “puts you to sleep.” The best option for a cavity will probably be nitrous oxide sedation (laughing gas).

On the other hand, people with aggressive tooth decay, individuals who have severe anxiety, or for people with special needs, it might not be possible to sit through a routine filling appointment and still be aware of everything going on around you. If that’s the situation, we can discuss a deeper level of sedation on a case-by-case basis. Ultimately, we need to help you feel comfortable and relaxed enough to get medically necessary dental care.

For the most part, general anesthesia (what most people are referring to when they ask to be put to sleep) is reserved for more complex oral surgeries.

Most oral surgeries like wisdom tooth extractions call for general anesthesia or IV sedation. When that’s the case, the medication is delivered via a small intravenous line directly into your bloodstream. This delivery method helps the anesthesia start working very quickly and can be turned off as soon as the surgery is over. Plus, it’s predictable and can be safely monitored by a licensed anesthesia provider (which can be a dentist or nurse anesthetist.)

Unless you need a surgical procedure like wisdom tooth extractions, sinus lifts, or multiple dental implants installed in one day, you likely won’t need anesthesia for your procedure. A milder sedative can offer a comfortable experience without the complexity of IV medication.

If you do suspect that you’ll need general anesthesia, we’ll want to select an appropriate medication based on your unique health circumstances. Be sure to let us know if you’ve undergone any recent surgeries, hospitalizations, what drug allergies you have (if any), and what other medications you’re currently taking (even if they’re over the counter.)

Any time that our dentist recommends a specific type of treatment, we’ll draft a care plan that outlines the fees involved and how your dental insurance is estimated to cover them. When it comes to sedation or IV anesthesia/sedation, it’s no different. Sometimes, we can even check to see if the service is included as part of your traditional medical benefits, depending on the need for the sedation.

When you make an appointment, be sure to bring a copy of all insurance cards with you. That way our treatment coordinators can contact your carrier to determine a detailed breakdown of the benefits that your plan includes. Once we contact them, we’ll have the numbers to “crunch” when it comes to figuring out what’s covered.

For dental procedures that are medically necessary and require sedation or anesthesia, it may be possible to get your dental insurance carrier to cover all or some of the expenses. Examples might include oral surgery, wisdom tooth extraction, or when special needs prevent the individual from sitting through a regular appointment.

Sedation dentists might use medications such as Valium (Diazepam), Halcion (Triazolam), Sonata (Zaleplon), or Ativan (Lorazepam) just to name a few. Each offers different benefits depending on the patient’s medical history, age, and the level of sedation that’s needed.

Before selecting the type of sedation medication to use, our local sedation dentist will need to review your past sedation experiences, discuss things like drug allergies, and know about any other medications or supplements that you’re currently taking.

If you have specific medical needs, or a complex health history, we can also discuss the sedation process with your primary care physician ahead of time to confirm the appropriate care plan.

About Dr. Jennifer Silver

Dr. Jennifer Silver has been working with patients at our Calgary office for the past 15 years! During your initial consultation, Dr. Silver will listen carefully to any concerns you may have about comfort during your general, restorative, or cosmetic dentistry procedure to help you determine if sedation will benefit you. Contact Dr. Silver today for a comfortable dental experience!

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