Will insurance help pay for sedation dentistry?


I’m wondering if dental insurance plans help pay for sedation dentistry. I have been putting off going to the dentist for years. Now I am starting to get sore gums and toothaches and I am worried that it will get worse if I don’t man up and get to the dentist. It is embarrassing but it is a fear that I can’t seem to get a grip on. I am thinking that sedation dentistry might help but is this something that insurance will help pay for or do I have to pay for it all out of pocket? How much will it cost? Abe

Abe – You have a lot of company with other people who fear dental appointments. The fear affects millions of Americans.

Dentists who offer sedation dentistry like to treat fearful patients. The dentist and staff will help you to relax, and they won’t make you feel embarrassed about your fear.

Sedation Dentistry and Insurance

Whether or not a dental plan will provide benefits for sedation depends on several factors:

  • Some insurance plans provide limited benefits for sedation dentistry. For example, depending on the procedure, up to one or two hours of sedation may be allowed.
  • If you have a copy of your plan benefits, it may indicate whether or not any coverage is provided for sedation.
  • Otherwise, you can contact the insurance company directly. Ask your dentist’s office for the dental codes that relate to your procedure. It will help the customer service rep determine which services are eligible for benefits.

The cost of sedation will depend on the type of sedation administered and the length of your treatment. If your plan does not provide benefits for sedation dentistry, or if the benefits are limited, speak with your dentist about how it can be made affordable for you.

This post is sponsored by Lowell, MA dentist Dr. Michael Szarek.

Should I go back to my sedation dentist?


When I lived in CT I had dentist who caters to dental cowards and uses sedation. She would go out of her way to make sure I was calm even if I only needed a filling. I’ve had the fillings for years and it seems like within the past 2 months ago one of the filling is loose. My anxiety has kept me away from any dentist even though I have lived here for 10 months now. I am overdue for a dental cleaning. I tried some tooth filler material from the drugstore but it isn’t working. My tooth is starting to hurt and I really will get sick if I go to a new dentist that I don’t know. I am wondering if I should forget about even trying to call a new dentist and just go back to my old cater to cowards dentist until I can find a way to get my anxiety under control. Thanks. Mya

Mya – When you have gentle dentist who uses sedation techniques and who understands your anxiety, it’s difficult to transition to a new dentist. But the issues with your teeth need to be treated. Over-the-counter dental filler materials are often not enough to treat tooth decay for the long term. A dentist will need to remove your damaged filling and replace it with a new one.

As the filling dislodges, you will begin to experience more pain in your tooth. Don’t wait for that to happen. The tooth can even become infected and cause more problems. If your anxiety is preventing you from finding a new dentist, it may be best to return to your former dentist, provided she is within a reasonable distance.

A dental emergency can make it a difficult time to see a new dentist. If you find that you can’t return to your cater-to-cowards dentist, ask friends or acquaintances for a recommendation on a gentle dentist. He or she will likely use sedation dentistry to help you relax during your dental treatment.

This post is sponsored by Lowell, MA dentist Dr. Michael Szarek.


Do I really need tooth extractions and sedation dentistry?


I have a new dentist who is recommending sedation dentistry to have 3 teeth extracted. I am concerned about taking medication overall, but to be sedated just to have teeth pulled? The fact that I don’t really know this dentist is making me uncomfortable. If it’s not necessary to be sedated to take the teeth out, I don’t want it. It’s not like I don’t go to the dentist regularly. It has been 8 months since I’ve seen a dentist, and I saw my previous dentist every 6 months. I’m somewhat surprised about the need to have teeth pulled. None of my teeth have bothered me, so I’m not sure why they need to be pulled. Nothing was mentioned about cavities either. This sounds a little drastic and to need sedation on top of it is scary. Do I really need my teeth pulled and do I really need sedation? Thanks. Tyson


Tyson – If you haven’t experienced any pain or discomfort with the three teeth in question, it is puzzling why your new dentist wants to extract them. We recommend that you see another dentist for a second opinion before you agree to any dental procedure or sedation dentistry.

Some Insight on Sedation Dentistry

We also want to address your concerns about sedation. There are varying levels of sedation dentistry. It can be administered as nitrous oxide, or given in pill form.

Nitrous oxide is commonly called laughing gas. You breathe it in during your appointment. When your appointment is complete, you will be given natural gas to clear the gas and reverse its effects.

If a stronger level of sedation is needed, oral anti-anxiety medication is given to help you relax. The medication is commonly prescribed to reduce anxiety and it is safe. Different dentist use various types of oral sedatives, so your dentist would need to tell you what he or she uses.

It is your right to refuse sedation medication. If you need teeth extractions, your dentist can anticipate the ease or difficulty of removing the teeth. Although local anesthesia is used to numb the area around a tooth, many patients prefer not to experience discomfort or to hear the sounds of dental tools.

A second opinion is the first step. Find out if you need any dental care at all. A conscientious dentist will try to preserve your teeth—not extract them. If dental care is needed, your new dentist will probably recommend more conservative treatment.

This post is sponsored by Lowell, MA dentist Dr. Michael Szarek.

I’m afraid of dying under sedation dentistry


I was looking forward to my dental appointment with the sedation dentist but now it’s starting to scare me. I didn’t realize how many people have died from it until I started searching on Google about the risks. Is there another way, some type of alternative, that’s not so dangerous? Thanks. Jamie

Jamie – Although you can find reports of patients who have died after receiving sedation, the cases are rare. It’s not the sedation itself that causes death; it’s the negligence of the dentist. As with any procedure that involves sedatives, there are risks, but a negative outcome is rare. Most sedation dentists don’t have any issues at all. Issues that do arise are usually minor and do not cause death.

General anesthesia, as administered during surgery, has greater risks. It’s rare for a sedation dentist to use full anesthesia. Mild, anti-anxiety medication is used to help you relax, not to make you unconscious.

Anti-anxiety medication makes you relaxed and drowsy. Before you’re given any type of sedation, your medical and prescription history will be reviewed. Be certain to provide your dentist with a complete list of medications, supplements, and herbs you’re taking. It will help him or her ensure you’re given the correct anti-anxiety medication, as well as the right dosage.

Sedation dentists and their attending staff receive extensive training on how to administer anti-anxiety medication and how to handle emergencies. They have a safety checklist to follow for each patient. Your dentist has been instructed to call 911 for an ambulance in the event of a true emergency. Your vital signs are monitored throughout the procedure.

Increase your comfort level by speaking with your sedation dentist about your concerns. Ask the dentist specific questions, including:

  • What training have you received to properly administer sedation?
  • How will be I monitored?
  • What precautions are taken to ensure safety?
  • What type of anti-anxiety medication will I receive?
  • How many patients have you provided with sedation?
  • What is the protocol for emergencies?

The answers you receive can increase your confidence in your dentist’s ability and in the safety of the medication you will receive to help you relax.


This post is sponsored by Lowell, MA dentist Dr. Michael Szarek.


How much work can a sedation dentist do in one visit?


Can you tell me how much work a sedation dentist can get done in 1 visit? I need 2 root canals and crowns and there is no way I will let my regular dentist do it. He does a good job but he is very slow. The longer I am in the dental chair the worse I start feeling. I even get nauseous. So I’m thinking about finding a sedation dentist because I think that dentist could maybe finish all of the work without me having to go back and forth to the dentist. Before I commit I want to know on average how much work a sedation dentist can complete in 1 visit. What is the average? Thanks. Johanne

Johanne – There is no set average for the amount of work a sedation dentist can complete in a single visit. The time it will take for your treatment depends on several factors:

  1. The complexity of the dental treatment – Some dental procedures, such as a dental filling, can be straightforward and relatively simple compared to other procedures. Still, care must be taken to prepare the tooth and ensure the filling will last. Other treatments, such as a root canal treatment and dental crowns, take longer. Root canal treatment removes infection from the tooth. The infection is cleaned out, the tooth is disinfected, and a dental filler material is used to replace the tooth pulp. Impressions are taken of your tooth for a crown to be made. In about two weeks, you will need to return to the office to have the lab-made crown bonded to your natural tooth.
  2. The dentist’s experience – The more experience a dentist has with a particular treatment, usually the faster he or she can complete the procedure. Each patient’s case is different, and unexpected issues can occur and lengthen the time it takes to complete a procedure.
  3. Your tolerance – Even with sedation dentistry, some patients only want to spend a limited amount of time in a dental chair. Your preference will be taken into consideration.

We suggest that you schedule consultations with at least two sedation dentists who have experience in the treatment you need. Find out what level of sedation each dentist provides, and get an estimate on the treatment time for your root canal procedure and dental crowns.

This post is sponsored by Lowell, MA dentist Dr. Michael Szarek.