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Sedation Dentistry: What to Expect and How It Works

At The Dental Anesthesia Center, we understand that dental anxiety is a genuine concern for many patients.

Sedation dentistry offers a solution, allowing those with fears or special needs to receive necessary dental care comfortably. We’ll walk you through the types of sedation available, how they work, and what you can expect during your visit.

sedation
Love these folks. They go above and beyond. So much so I am a regular dental patient! So gentle and caring, I could not say enough.
I've been with this group for about a decade & can't say enough good things about them. From the dentists to the hygienists to the desk staff, they are fabulous. I have incredibly high anxiety when it comes to dental work & they go out of their way to make me feel as comfortable as possible. I've never had a bad experience & if it wasn't for them I'd still be getting dental cleanings under real anesthesia due to the fear. They turned that around for me & while I still feel anxiety, I'm able to get cleanings without any anesthesia, pills, gas, etc. I've had both large scale & routine work done there & highly recommend them. Extremely helpful, professional & pleasant staff all around. Wonderful people.
A 10/10 Experience!I cannot express how grateful we are for Dr. Thoms and his team! Their sensitivity, expertise, and dedication made a potentially challenging dental experience for our daughter as comfortable and stress-free as possible (for her AND us!).We were very impressed by Dr. Thoms' thoroughness in explaining the procedure and his willingness to answer all of our questions, alleviating any anxieties we had. The ability to be present by our daughter's side as she was falling asleep was a huge comfort factor.We felt a sense of genuine care and compassion towards our daughter and felt that they treated her as if she was one of their own. Dr. Thoms and his team clearly go above and beyond to provide exceptional patient care and makes a complex dental procedure feel safe, comfortable, and even reassuring. A huge THANK YOU to Dr. Thoms and his team!
Always a great experience. Carrie does a wonderful job keeping my smile healthy and bright. Dr. Thoms is always very nice and professional. They make going to the dentist much less stressful!
The Dental Anesthesia Center (DAC) is truly unique. They provide all forms of anesthesia - and a wide range of dental treatments. I have been a patient there for 17 years - and I continue to be impressed with the legacy of expertise and kindness built by Dr. Hoffmann and his team.If your dental phobia and dental issues have made you feel hopeless ... I encourage you to contact the DAC for a consultation. That's what I did 17 years ago - and it proved to be a very good decision and a true blessing.
I just had my first visit with Dr. Thoms. He took his time and thoroughly explained everything to me about sedation and dental procedures. He is extremely knowledgeable and very friendly. Comfort of their patients is utmost in their minds at this practice and Dr. Thoms, Emily and Robyn are outstanding! Highly recommended!
I just had my implant surgery 3/22 with Dr. Thoms.The patients Dr. Thoms has with me is simply INCREDIBLE!!!!! I know I’m a lot to deal with. I am so blessed to have crossed paths with Dr. Thoms.His entire staff goes above and beyond ANY dental office I’ve ever dealt with in the past. from the bottom of my heart, I am so glad that I made the decision to try the dental anesthesia center..
Dr. Hoffman and team are the most amazing dental team you will ever meet. Have been a patient for years and will continue to do so. If you have nerves about going to the dentist, they will eliminate those fears very quickly.
AS I SIT HERE THIS MORNING I AM GRATEFUL FOR GOD'S MERCY AND THE STAFF OF DOC. HOFFMAN !!! I AM HOWEVER STILL TO EMBARRASSED FOR THE WALK OF SHAME BRINGING HIS GIFT . I LOST TWO DAYS AND WAS CHOKING ON 19 STICHES EATING SUCKERS SAME DAY SEEMS TO BE WITH MYSELF !!! SO WITH MY SINCERE APPRECIATION, I APOLOGIZE TO ALL !!! EXCELLENT SKILLS IN ALL ASPECTS.
As a 73 year old man, I have been to several dentist’s and none compare to Dr. Thoms and Dr. Behl. The entire staff is very knowledgeable and accommodating. I have had some major work done and I/V sedation is definitely the way to go. Five stars to the entire team at DAC. I highly recommend their services.
These folks are great!! Always very professional and personable and don't try to over sell you on what you need done!! I would highly recommend!!
I love my friends at the Dental Anesthesia Center! This place has the nicest clinical staff and they do such a wonderful job for any issue that arises. They are prompt and thorough. I love all the hygienists, but especially my personal hygienist, Carrie. My dentist, Dr. Biehl is knowledgeable, friendly, highly skilled and fun.I started taking my kids here when they needed procedures under anesthesia. Once my former dentist retired (and I realized the DAC also does family dentistry), I switched the entire family to this office. Best decision I ever made.I’m also so impressed with the experience this team has treating individuals with special needs.
Response from the owner: Thank you so much for taking the time to post your kind review!
I went for a consultation at the center. I was terrified. I saw Dr.Sean Thoms he was so professional and caring. I have had five different consultations at other dentist offices trying to make a final decision on who I feel more comfortable with and no other doctor was as caring or attentive as Dr. Thoms. He called me a couple of days later with SEVERAL different ways he could give the results I wanted. I’m truly blessed to have found Dr Thoms. The entire staff was so professional and attentive. I have made the final decision to put my care in the hands of Dr Sean Thoms
Response from the owner: Thank you for taking the time to share your experience with us, Juanita. Your positive words mean so much to us.Cheers,The Dental Anesthesia Center
Maris E. Behl DDS Is a wonderful dentist. She did extensive work including several dental crowns and fillings. There was little to no pain during all of her procedure’s. I am 86 years old and have been to more dentists than I can count. Dr Behl is by far the best of all. If you want a friendly disciplined and accomplished dentist, you will be glad you used her work.
Response from the owner: Thank you so much for your kind words, James. We really appreciate you taking the time out to share your experience with us.Cheers,The Dental Anesthesia Center
Best dental office in St. Louis hands down! It’s a great place to go for sedation or just general dentistry! Highly recommend!
I recently had fillings done by Dr. Thoms. His crew that was helping prep me to go under did an amazing job. I have really bad trauma (& anxiety) from previous dental work and permanent nerve damage from a surgery I had in 2021. The staff and Dr. Thoms made sure that I was calm and comfortable. This has probably been the best experience I have ever had, thanks to this dental clinic. The front end staff is patient and kind to their patients. I would most definitely recommend anyone to go here if they have dental anxiety. Dr. Thoms explained everything very thoroughly during our consult months prior and also the day of my fillings. After we were finished with my filings, I told him about my bottom teeth pushing too much on my 8 and 9 (another issue I had been dealing with after my last dental surgery), he was more than happy to help and filed down my bottom teeth. I am relieved that he was able to do that for me, even though it was not initially planned. The price of the fillings, anesthesia and odontoplasty/enameloplasty was reasonable. I wouldn't want to pay any less because the outcome was worth it.
The entire staff is always very compassionate and patient with my daughter who’s autistic😊 I am a patient as well the staff and the doctor are very knowledgeable and are capable of answering every question explaining in detail to my satisfaction. I am in the process of bringing my grandson to become a patient as well keep up the superb service 👏
I would highly recommend DAC to anyone. I brought our two boys (ages 6 & 3) in to have their routine cleaning. The moment we walked in we were greeted with smiles and warm hellos. The staff does a great job of talking to the boys, saying hello, and making them feel extra special. Carrie cleaned their teeth, and she is awesome. The boys were both so comfortable, she tells them exactly what she is doing, and makes sure they are ok the whole time. She talked with them about their summer plans, school, and fishing. Then Dr. Behl came in to check everything out. She was so personable, informative and positive with the little ones. She explained things very well, and she was so patient as they asked questions or had something to tell her. Thank you to all of the staff at DAC, for being so warm and making this a great experience for the little ones.
5 Stars!I skipped going to the dentist for 6 years and what a mistake that was. Everyone at this office is extremely nice and a pleasure to deal with.Laina, their hygenist is awesome even though she is a Cubs fan. I actually look forward to my 3 month cleanings now and will not miss another.Dr. Thoms and his team (I requested Julie as an assistant I would do the same :)) were amazing. As I said I skipped going for 6 years so I had some work to be done and chose to be put to sleep instead of 4 visits. They make sure you are as comfortable as possible and even take the time to check up on you after to make sure you are healing properly.Last but not least, Marie and the entire front office are great. Always a pleasure to deal with and are very accommodating. They are the face of the operation and the tone of the visit is set with them. The amount of care and compassion they show the patients in the waiting room is beyond extraordinary.
I have a special needs son that needed some work done. The Dental Anesthesia Center is an amazing place I can't imagine Trevor being in any better hands. We love Dr. Thoms and his staff. So nice and caring. A little on the expensive side but very well worth the care he received. I would recommend to anyone that has special needs, fear of dentistry or just in need of a dentist.
It can be frightening to have to put a two-year-old under anesthesia. The staff and Dr. Thoms took the time to explain the treatment options.The process went well, and the services were outstanding. Everyone was polite and empathetic, from the front desk receptionist to the dentists. The customer service was excellent. I rarely post reviews, but I do so because I want others to know that they can trust and feel safe with their care. The Dental Anesthesia Center comes highly recommended from this mama bear.
My son has autism and a lot of anxiety around medical procedures. This is the most understanding and compassionate group of people, I am so grateful we found them. The doctor calls personally to check up on us after the appointment. Even though we only come once a year they remember my son's needs without me having to explain everything all over again. They are always on time, organized, and transparent about billing. I wish all of our medical appointments could go as smoothly as they do here.
Absolutely wonderful!My five year old had to have extensive dental work done and from start to finish the dental anesthesia center delivered five star work !Going to the dentist is scary enough but having to take your own child to be put under was next level and the care he received from the nurses and dr was mind easing.
Very kind and compassionate staff. They took excellent care of my special needs kiddo and took extra time to make sure it was done right. I would highly recommend.
beyond pleased with our experience with Dr. Hoffman!! My son, Cameron, had work done and everything turned out way better than I could've ever expected. Dr Hoffman saved all of his teeth, where other dentist told me the only option for two of his teeth were to be pulled. His smile is so beautiful and I couldn't think them enough! They were sooo kind!! The dental hygienist were so sweet, and throughly explained everything to me. There was no judgement. They made this whole process so comfortable. Yes, it was pricey, but worth EVERY penny. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!
Response from the owner: Thank you so much for taking the time to share. We are so appreciative.
So caring, so nice, as others said, a little higher priced. But it is worth every penny. I can't describe how great everyone is
Response from the owner: Thank you so much for taking the time to share this positive review. It is very appreciated!
We love all the workers there. Their very welcoming staff, but very professional. We’ve been going there for about 15 years.
Dr Sean Thoms and his staff were great! The office is very welcoming and they yook very great care of my 2year old. I would recommend them to the world!
Dr. Hoffman and his staff are amazing, friendly and caring. I have high anxiety and fear of dentists due to my past bad experiences, but the Dental Anesthesia Center made me feel at ease and comfortable. Had a lot of dental work done in one visit while sedated and recovered well. Now I have my smile back thanks to Dr. Hoffman and his team. If youre a person like me I definantly recommend you the Dental Anesthesia Center.
Response from the owner: Thank you Lejla, we are happy to help!
My son is in need for oral surgery and Dr. Thoms was so kind and gentle with my son! We are so blessed to have found this team!
Response from the owner: Thanks Taylor!
Very professional and clean environment
Response from the owner: Thank you Alen!
My 9yr old daughter was afraid of going to the dentist. I was referred to Dental Anesthesia and I must say, they were AWESOME!! Dr Sean Thoms along with the staff were wonderful. They explained everything they were going to do to my daughter and kept me well informed during her procedure. They allowed me to be by her side until she was sedated. They even called later in the day just to check on her. My daughter said they made her feel very comfortable and would want to return to this practice for future procedures.
Response from the owner: Thank you so much for your kind words Tonya!
I have bad anxiety when visiting the dentist die to a bad experiencein my part. However, coming here has changed all of that. This is a great office with a wonderful friendly staff and amazing dentist. I always feel comfortable and welcomed when I come to their officefor an appointment.
Response from the owner: Thank you so much Stacey!
Best dental office for all your dental needs! Highly recommend!
We are so thankful that another dentist recommended The Dental Anesthesia Center to us. Our little boy needed special care due to his MTHFR mutation. Dr. Thoms was very thorough during our initial consultation, answering every question we could think of. When our son had his dental procedure under general anesthesia, Dr. Thoms and everyone else we encountered there served us with compassion and great concern for our son's well-being. We could not have asked for a better experience! Now our son is looking forward to his 6 month check-up, and we will recommend Dr. Thoms any opportunity we have to do so.
The office felt welcoming, and the staff cordial. My wait time was short and the staff treated my husband as if he had no disability at all. Dr. Thoms explained everything in detail and was very personable which made us comfortable. I will be taking Dr. Thoms card back to my current dentist office and also my job at the doctor's off I work at as a reference for others who might need their services.
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What is Sedation Dentistry?

Sedation dentistry uses medication to help patients relax during dental procedures. It’s often called “sleep dentistry,” although patients usually remain awake except under general anesthesia. Sedation can be used for everything from simple cleaning to more complex procedures.

Nitrous Oxide (Laughing Gas)

Nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas, is a mild sedative inhaled through a mask placed over your nose. It helps you relax and can produce feelings of euphoria. The effects wear off quickly once the mask is removed.

What to expect: You’ll feel relaxed and slightly giddy but remain fully conscious. How it works: The gas is mixed with oxygen and inhaled throughout the procedure. It is best for mild anxiety, short procedures, and patients who want to drive themselves home afterward.

Oral Sedation

Oral sedation involves taking a prescribed pill, usually from the benzodiazepine family, about an hour before your procedure.

What to expect: You’ll feel drowsy but remain awake. Some patients may fall asleep but can be easily awakened. How it works: The medication helps reduce anxiety and may cause amnesia about the procedure. It is best for moderate anxiety and more prolonged procedures.

IV Sedation

Intravenous (IV) sedation delivers sedative medication directly into your bloodstream.

What to expect: You’ll be in a deep state of relaxation and may not remember much of the procedure. How it works: A trained anesthesiologist administers and monitors the sedation throughout the procedure. It is best for severe anxiety, complex procedures, and patients with special needs.

General Anesthesia

General anesthesia renders you completely unconscious during the dental procedure.

What to expect: You’ll be completely unaware of your surroundings and feel no pain. How it works: Medication is administered through IV or inhalation and carefully monitored by an anesthesiologist. It is best for extensive procedures, patients with severe anxiety, or certain medical conditions.

The Sedation Dentistry Process

Before the Procedure:

  • Your dentist will review your medical history and current medications to determine the most appropriate type of sedation.
  • You’ll receive instructions about eating and drinking before the procedure, depending on the type of sedation used.
  • For oral sedation, IV sedation, or general anesthesia, you’ll need someone to drive you home afterward.

During the Procedure:

  • Your vital signs will be monitored throughout the procedure.
  • The level of sedation can be adjusted as needed.
  • Local anesthetic will still be used to ensure you don’t feel pain.

After the Procedure:

  • Recovery time varies depending on the type of sedation used.
  • You may feel groggy or sleepy for several hours after the procedure.
  • Your dentist will provide aftercare instructions specific to your procedure and type of sedation.

Benefits of Sedation Dentistry

  1. Anxiety Relief: Helps patients with dental phobias receive necessary care.
  2. Pain Management: Reduces discomfort during lengthy or complex procedures.
  3. Time Efficiency: Allows dentists to perform multiple procedures in one visit.
  4. Reduced Gag Reflex: Helps patients who have a sensitive gag reflex.
  5. Memory Suppression: Many patients have little to no memory of the procedure.
Sedation Dentist in St. Louis
St. Louis Sedation Dentistry

Is Sedation Dentistry Right for You?

Sedation dentistry can be beneficial for patients who:

  • Have dental anxiety or phobia
  • Have a low pain threshold
  • Can’t sit still in the dentist’s chair
  • Have a strong gag reflex
  • Need a large amount of dental work completed

However, it’s not suitable for everyone. Factors like pregnancy, certain medical conditions, or taking specific medications may affect your eligibility for sedation.

Safety and Risks

When administered by trained professionals, sedation dentistry is very safe. However, as with any medical procedure, there are some risks. These can include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Prolonged drowsiness
  • In rare cases, allergic reactions or complications from underlying health conditions

At The Dental Anesthesia Center, our experienced professionals prioritize your safety and comfort. We carefully assess each patient’s needs and medical history to determine the most appropriate and safest form of sedation.

Sedation dentistry has revolutionized dental care for many patients, making it possible to receive necessary treatments without anxiety or discomfort. Understanding the options available and what to expect lets you decide whether sedation dentistry is right for you.

Contact us

If you have questions about sedation dentistry or want to discuss options, please get in touch with us at The Dental Anesthesia Center. We’re committed to providing comfortable, anxiety-free dental experiences for all our patients.

Updated: July 2, 2024

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