Can Obesity Prevent You From Being Sedated At The Dental Office?

16 March 2021
 Categories: Dentist, Blog


It might not come as a surprise to learn that obesity is a widespread problem in the USA. After all, more than a third of Americans (some 36.5%) are classified as obese, with a further 32.5% who are overweight. If your weight and height put you in the obese range, you can experience some difficulties with receiving some forms of medical care. This can even apply to your dental treatment. Obesity can play a role in your overall dental health, and it can even complicate your treatment when that treatment requires sedation.

Local Anesthesia

You're probably already familiar with the pain relief offered when you're about to undergo a dental procedure. You will be given an injection into your gums (which will be novocaine or procaine or something similar), and aside from this short, sharp jab, this pain relief is smooth and efficient. Your mouth will quickly become numb, allowing the dentist to get to work. This is a local anesthesia, and receiving this form of pain relief won't be complicated by a patient's obesity. It's when you require further pain management to point of sedation that obesity can be a concern.

Secondary Concerns

This isn't to say that your obesity will exclude you from receiving the necessary sedation before a procedure that warrants this level of pain management. The main concern is secondary medical concerns that have arisen from your obesity. This can include any cardiovascular problems or respiratory ailments. Whether or not you have ever experienced sleep apnea will also be relevant. Your dentist will enquire about your medical history, with a particular focus on any obesity-related health complaints. It's important not to withhold anything.

Body Mass Index

In addition to these secondary health problems, the extent of your obesity will also be an important factor. This will be determined by your body mass index (BMI), which is your body mass (weight) divided by the square of your height. This helps to formally classify the extent of your obesity, which is necessary for deciding which form of sedation will be most appropriate. 

Specialized Sedation

Dental offices will have a sedation practitioner, and this is often the dentist themselves. This is someone qualified to administer sedation prior to a procedure. When a patient's obesity makes this process more complex, a specialized dentist anesthesiologist may be consulted with the sole purpose of administering and monitoring sedation, and this includes the monitoring of your heart rate and the functioning of your airways.

Obesity doesn't prevent you from being sedated at the dental office when it's necessary, nor should it stop you from seeking treatment. However, it can result in a more detailed, specialized approach to ensure that you can be safely sedated. Reach out to a dentist who provides sedation dentistry services to learn more.