Sedation Dentistry for Patients with Special Needs

2 min readDec 13, 2019


Sedation dentistry has become increasingly popular in recent years as it can help patients with dental anxiety get the treatment they need.

One category of patients that will greatly benefit from sedation dentistry is those with special needs, whether they have physical or cognitive impairments. People with physical disabilities face numerous challenges during dentist appointments mainly because of their restricted ability to move or be in certain positions. Patients who are suffering from cognitive disabilities can get very anxious in this context, and not be able to control their strong emotions.

Sedation dentistry includes any dental procedure that is done after the patient has received a sedative. Not everyone knows that the sedatives are not meant to deal with the patient’s pain, but with his nervousness and difficulties staying calm and still.

What the Doctors Need to Know About the Patient

In some cases, the patient can have a direct conversation with the doctor about their medical history, but many patients with disabilities are represented by their caregiver in these situations. The patient or caregiver must provide information about any medication taken recently, medical history and certain allergies or chronic issues.

What Kind of Sedation Will Be Used?

This all depends on the patient’s particular case and history. Sedation varies from mild to heavy, and it can be administered in a number of ways.

The simplest form of sedation is inhaling laughing gas, and it might be the right choice for certain patients with minor dental issues. The next steps on the scale of intensity are oral sedation and IV sedation. These still allow the doctor to communicate with the patient, as they don’t get the patient unconscious. The heaviest form of sedation is general anesthesia.

The doctor will discuss the options with the patient and caregiver and choose the best one based on the nature of the intervention and the type of disability the patient has.

Other Things to Consider

Patients with special needs are dealing with different issues throughout their lives. Their right to receive proper medical treatment should be respected by any dental facility. If a dental office cannot provide service to a patient with special needs, they should be able to refer to someone that could or offer alternatives.

Access in the clinic for patients in wheelchairs, for example, is a thing to consider. The clinic’s or doctor’s ability to deal with possible risks associated with a certain type of sedation is also important. Other things to be considered are the patient’s coverage in terms of costs and insurance, and the possibility of getting alternative solutions to sedation, like therapy or hypnosis.

For patients with special needs, going to the dentist can be even harder than just mild anxiety. Fortunately, sedation dentistry can make their lives easier and promote dental health.




The Dental Anesthesia Center :: St. Louis Sedation, Sleep, & Special Needs Dentistry :: Call 314-862-7844 #StLouis #STL #Dentist