Dental Sedation – What Types of Dental Sedation Are Available?

Sedation is a great option for those suffering from dental anxiety. This can include apprehension before appointments, avoiding dental visits altogether, and more.


There are different types of sedation, including mild inhaled sedation, also known as laughing gas. This type of sedation can be administered through a mask placed over the nose.

Nitrous oxide

Nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, is used to help you relax before and during your procedure. It is a colorless, non-flammable gas that will be attached to a mask over your nose. This type of sedation is very safe, and it is very easy to control by the dentist. However, it doesn’t put you to sleep, so you will be able to hear and respond to your dentist. This type of sedation is ideal for people with anxiety or who have trouble getting comfortable in the dental chair.

Oral sedation involves taking a prescribed sedative pill an hour before your appointment. It is one of the more minimal forms of sedation, and it can cause drowsiness. It is important to discuss your medical history with your doctor before receiving oral sedation, as it may interact with other medications or chronic health conditions.

This form of sedation is very effective at reducing the pain and anxiety associated with many dental procedures, including wisdom teeth extractions and root canals. It can even be used for full-mouth reconstructions, including the placement of dental implants. However, you should avoid this type of sedation if you are in the first trimester of pregnancy or have a chronic respiratory illness, such as COPD or obstructive sleep apnea. You should also bring someone who can drive you home afterward, as you will likely be groggy for a few hours.

Oral sedation

Oral sedation is a pill that, when taken about an hour before your procedure, makes you feel drowsy and relaxed. The dentist will prescribe a dose that fits your needs. Minimal sedation is usually enough to make you feel comfortable, but not so much that you lose consciousness. A larger dose produces moderate sedation, which can cause you to fall asleep. If this happens, the dentist will nudge you awake with a gentle shake. Sedation may also reduce your gag reflex, making it easier for the dentist to work on your teeth.

Oral sedatives are often used for people who have anxiety or fear about dental procedures. They are also used for people who have a low pain tolerance and sensitive gag reflexes. People who need oral sedation are generally required to have someone drive them to and from the appointment because the effects of the drug can linger.

Before undergoing sedation, patients should discuss their medical history with the dentist and provide a list of any medications they are taking. They should wear comfortable clothes and avoid eating or drinking anything for 6-8 hours before the sedation appointment. They should also line up a friend or family member to take them home when the appointment is over. Patients undergoing sedation should also not operate any machinery or work for the rest of the day until the effects of the medication have worn off.

Intravenous sedation

Intravenous sedation, or IV sedation is an effective sedation treatment that delivers a controlled dose of medication quickly. Your dentist will place a small tube (catheter) into a vein in your arm or hand, through which the medication is delivered. This method offers an advanced level of control, allowing the dentist to administer more precise dosages. Patients who receive IV sedation commonly do not remember their dental visit and usually feel no pain at the time of treatment. In addition, a local anesthetic may be added to the sedation, reducing any discomfort you might experience.

A dentist who offers this form of sedation must have extensive education and training in order to perform it properly. During the procedure, the dentist and an assistant will monitor the patient’s vital signs.

If your dentist offers this type of sedation, they will probably give you specific instructions to follow before the appointment. For example, you will likely be told to eat and drink very little beforehand. You should also bring a friend or family member who can drive you home afterward and stay with you until the effects of sedation wear off.

This form of sedation causes a longer period of amnesia, and it allows dentists to complete complex treatments in fewer visits. However, it is not suitable for patients who have a heart condition or are taking certain medications.

General anesthesia

General anesthesia is the highest level of dental sedation. It is only available in a surgical center, hospital or properly equipped dental office, and it’s usually performed by an oral surgeon or trained anesthesiologist. It is used for invasive procedures and provides an extended period of amnesia, meaning patients don’t remember the treatment at all.

To get this level of sedation, your dentist will give you a pill, such as Halcion (a member of the benzodiazepine family), about an hour before the procedure. Depending on the dose, this can produce minimal sedation or moderate sedation. The pill can also cause a dry mouth and prolonged drowsiness after the appointment, so you’ll need someone to drive you home.

Before using sedation, your dentist will check your medical history to make sure you are safe for it. You should tell your dentist about any allergies, pre-existing health problems and current medications that you’re taking. Some people shouldn’t receive sedation, including pregnant women and those with heart conditions or high blood pressure. You should also avoid alcohol and drugs like opioids before your appointment, as they can increase the risk of complications. Your dentist will provide explicit instructions before your sedation treatment. They’ll recommend that you wear comfortable clothes and not eat or drink anything 6-8 hours before your sedation.