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In layman’s terms, sedation means to put someone in a relaxed state or to calm him or her down by using medication. Sedatives or drugs are used to numb the pain and keep you relaxed while sitting in the dentist’s chair. It is sometimes referred to as sleep dentistry which in some cases are true. This is because when someone is put under general anesthesia, they literally go to sleep and will most likely not remember anything after.

What are the Types of Sedation for Dental Patients?


Nitrous Oxide

Also known as the laughing gas, nitrous oxide when inhaled through a mask, helps a patient relax. it is rather light and wears off quickly. It's perfect for patients who want to relax but doesn't want to go under.

Oral Sedation

Taken in pill form, this sedative can range from light to heavy. They all generally make you drowsy, as it is the effect it has for most people. Taken an hour before having your dental procedure, may help you calm down if you are overly anxious.

Some patients may need an additional dose to at least achieve moderate sedation. It is not designed to knock you out or make you fall asleep, but some patients who are sensitive to sedatives actually do fall asleep during the procedure. The dentist can always wake them up.


Intravenous Sedation

IV sedation will keep you awake during the procedure, but you will feel no pain. It is administered via a vein in the hand or arm. You will feel sleepy and relaxed but won't fall asleep either. At least that's what happens to most patients.

After which your dentist will still inject your gums with local anesthesia because the nerves in your mouth will still feel pain. IV sedation may already be classified as deep sedation since you will be somewhere at the edge of sleep, but not unconscious. Plus, you can still be awakened.


General Anesthesia

This type of sedation renders the patient unconscious for the whole duration of the procedure. The patient cannot be wakened and will have no recollection of the procedure that was done. Through a combination of more powerful anesthetic drugs, it can be delivered via IV or inhaled through an oxygen mask. General anesthesia is the heaviest sedative among all types and is generally used for major surgeries.

Who Can Opt for Sedation Dentistry?

  • Patients who have a phobia of going to the dentist.
  • People who are sensitive in the mouth area.
  • Someone who may have had traumatic experiences in a dentist chair in the past. ( by no fault of the dentist)
  • Some individuals who for some reason, are already resistant to local anesthetic. They may already need a combination of drugs to achieve proper sedation.

What are the Benefits of Sedation Dentistry?

Helps the Patient Relax

Being able to control your anxiety at least for the duration of the procedure, can alleviate both the fear of going to the dentist and the perceived burden of having to go back. With sedation, a follow-up visit is no longer a struggle partly because the patient already knows that whatever happens there is relief available.

2. Stops Pain

Whether it is a major dental surgery or just a minor procedure, the management or the elimination of pain by the use of medication is important for both patient and doctor. The patient will be more pliable and relaxed, in so much that the dentist gets to finish the job as soon as possible. And of course, it will significantly be easier for the patient too.

3. Makes People Forget

Let’s face it, going to the dentist is no party. It is only because of sedatives that you don’t remember how a drill grounds your tooth, nor to mention a host of other unpleasant experiences that you may have had while sitting on the chair. Sedatives help you forget all of that.

4. Helps You Get Through Several Procedures in One Sitting

Imagine sitting on the chair for hours on end with no anesthetic whatsoever. No one would survive enduring one procedure after another scheduled for 4 hours. Sedatives can do the job by either numbing you down for that, or just wake you up later when it’s done.

Final Thoughts

If you think you might be one of those people who need help in pain management and gain better experiences with the visits to the dentist, ask your doctor about sedation dentistry.