More and more people who experience anxiety or fear about visiting the dentist are turning to sedation dentistry. Cost is one of the most important factors in deciding what sort of sedation dentist to visit, but pricing variations often make it difficult to get a straight answer. Depending on your insurance coverage, geographic location, treatment preferences and dentist, there are several factors that determine sedation dentistry cost.
Though it’s impossible to determine your treatment costs without speaking to your dentist’s office, an overview of dental sedation methods and their prices can help you narrow down your choices.
Sedation Dentistry Treatment Information
Oral sedatives are one of the most common treatments used in sedation dentistry. Cost for oral sedatives varies based on several factors including insurance and prescription coverage, generic vs. name brand sedatives, and required dosage. Diazepam (commonly known as Valium) is the most popular oral sedative used in adult dentistry. Sedation dentists who specialize in children (or light sedation in adults) commonly use Triazolam (brand name Halcion).
These sedatives relieve the fear and anxiety associated with dental procedures, making it easier for the dentist to work without risk of inflicting pain or damage as the patient flinches or moves. Typical pricing for oral sedation is between $200 and $400.
Nitrous oxide (or laughing gas) is another popular treatment used in sedation dentistry. Cost for nitrous oxide gas is on par with oral sedatives, typically ranging between $200-400. While sedatives only offer relaxation, nitrous oxide is also a mild anesthetic. For potentially painful dental procedures such as having a tooth filled, nitrous oxide gas may be a more suitable treatment than a simple sedative.
It’s important to note that nitrous oxide and other anesthetics must be administered by a dental anesthesiologist, and are therefore subject to per hour charges. This is one of the “hidden” costs of sedation dentistry. Cost for an anesthesiologist’s time and anesthetics are rarely covered by insurance, so proceed with caution before ordering them – especially for longer procedures.
Anesthesia is a less common method used in sedation dentistry. This is typically reserved for painful or complex dental surgical procedures. As with all anesthetics, use of both general and intravenous (IV) anesthesia involves risks. In rare cases, patients can have severe adverse effects to anesthesia including becoming comatose. These risks make many sedation dentists uncomfortable with promoting or using anesthetics in their practice.
As with nitrous oxide, anesthesia must be administered by a specialist. Rates begin at a higher price than the cost for nitrous oxide gas, and can rise sharply depending on your needs. If your dentist recommends general or IV anesthesia, ask the office to recommend an anesthesiologist that you can contact for rates.
When it comes to sedation dentistry, cost is always a factor. Though sedatives and anesthetics can be expensive, most patients consider it a small price to pay for peace of mind. Just because you’re anxious about visiting the dentist doesn’t mean you’re not entitled to a beautiful smile.