Hospital Dentistry vs. Sedation Dentistry

What is Hospital Dentistry?

Hospital Dentistry occurs when routine (and even more complex) dental procedures are performed in the theater of an operating room at an outpatient surgery facility. These services are usually made available to patients that are unable to have these procedures performed due to underlying physical or developmental conditions. For example, a young child that has multiple dental abscesses or broken teeth requiring significant treatment that would require multiple visits in order to restore. Or perhaps a special needs child/adult that has cerebral palsy or delayed mental development may not be able to follow directions and remain still or cooperate at the level required to allow for these procedures to be performed successfully. In other situations, a patient may have a severe anxiety or difficult gag reflex that would allow the patient to best be served with the assistance of a general anesthetic. The North Sioux Dental Clinic serves as a regional referral center for Hospital Cases and have completed over 2,000 hospital cases in the past 25 years.

In short, the operating room allows the patient to be monitored and supervised by an anesthesiologist to protect the patient’s airway while the dentistry is performed.

What is Sedation Dentistry?

Some procedures can be done more comfortably in our office with the assistance of an oral medication taken prior to the procedure. This medication is taken approximately one hour before the appointment and usually requires that the patient have an adult escort since they would not be able to drive themselves to or from the office. With this medication on board, the patient is still aware of what is going on but is certainly calmer and more relaxed throughout the procedure. The medication dosage is weight and age based and may cause some drowsiness for a couple of hours after the appointment.

In addition, laughing gas (nitrous oxide) can help provide a mild level of sedation that helps reduce anxiety and calm a hyperactive gag reflex. This gas is breathed through a special form fitted nose piece and does not have any lingering effect.