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A Patient's Guide to the Types of Sedation Dentistry

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November 21, 2023

Many people experience dental anxiety, which can make routine check-ups or procedures feel like daunting tasks. Thankfully, there's a solution that can help ease your worries and make your dental experiences more comfortable: sedation dentistry.

Dental visits don't have to be a nightmare due to the various types of sedation dentistry. In this article, we will review the different types of sedation dentistry options available, helping you understand how they work and which one might best fit you.

What is Sedation Dentistry?

Sedation dentistry, often referred to as "sleep dentistry," is a specialized field of dental care that focuses on providing a more comfortable and anxiety-free experience for patients during various dental procedures.

It involves using medications to help patients relax and remain calm during their dental appointments. They are an excellent option for individuals with dental phobias, anxiety, or difficulty sitting still for extended periods.

Types of Sedation Dentistry

Whether you are dealing with dental anxiety, undergoing a long treatment, or simply looking to make your visit more relaxed, there's likely a sedation option to meet your needs. Below are the commonly used types of sedation in dentistry.

Inhalation Sedation

Directly administered into the bloodstream, inhalation sedation places patients in deep relaxation. It's especially useful for extensive treatments or individuals with heightened dental fears.

Oral Sedation

Before your dental visit, you can take a small pill to help you feel calmer. You're still awake for your dental procedure but feel very peaceful and in a serene state. This makes it easier to forget you're even at the dentist.

Intravenous (IV) Sedation

A sedative medicine goes straight into your bloodstream through an IV. You feel like you're in a deep, restful state while the dentist works on your teeth. This method is great for longer treatments or if you're very scared of dental work.

General Anesthesia

You can have general anesthesia if you'd rather not be awake during your dental procedure. An expert makes sure you're safely asleep the whole time, and a skilled anesthesiologist will closely monitor you. When you wake up, all the work is done.

Local Anesthesia

Local anesthesia is used to numb just a specific area in your mouth. This is best for minor procedures. You're fully awake, but the numbing means you won't feel any pain in the part being worked on.

Combining Sedation Methods

Dental clinics often offer the flexibility to combine different types of sedation. By blending methods, you can tailor the experience to your needs and enjoy a stress-free visit that's uniquely yours. Your dentist can help you choose what's best for your needs.

Pediatric Sedation

Children, too, can harbor apprehensions about dental visits. Pediatric sedation offers techniques such as laughing gas, calming pills, or IV sedation, ensuring a positive dental experience for younger patients.

a dentist working on a patient

Pros and Cons of Each Type of Sedation Dentistry

When you go to the dentist, you might feel nervous. To help you relax, there are different types of sedation or calming methods. Here is a table to make it easy to understand the pros and cons associated with each one:

Type of Sedation



Inhaled Minimal Sedation

Wears off fast, you can drive home

Might not relax you enough

Oral Sedation

Easy to take, no needles

Can't change dose easily during treatment

IV Sedation

Deep relaxation quickly

Needles involved, can't drive home

General Anesthesia

Fully asleep, no pain

Needles involved, can't drive home

Local Anesthesia

No pain in one area

Only numbs one part

Combined Methods

Tailor to your needs

Might be complicated

Pediatric Sedation

Makes kids calm

The type needed depends on the child's needs

Now you know the pros and cons of each type of sedation. This should make picking what's best for you or your child easier. Talk to your dentist about these options so can help you decide the right way to stay calm and have a positive visit.

Potential Side Effects of Sedation Dentistry

While sedation dentistry is safe and effective, patients should be aware of its risks and make educated decisions regarding oral health. The following is a list of typical adverse reactions to various types of sedation:

  • Nausea: You may have an unsettled stomach and feel like you could vomit.
  • Dizziness: Experiencing light-headedness or a sensation that your surroundings are moving is possible.
  • Dry Mouth: You may notice that your mouth feels unusually dry during or after the procedure.
  • Sleepiness: Feeling fatigued or excessively tired is a common reaction.
  • Memory Gaps: It's possible that you won't remember certain aspects of your time in the dental chair.
  • Slowed Reaction: Your ability to respond to stimuli, either verbally or physically, may be impaired temporarily.
  • Mood Changes: Short-term shifts in your emotional state, such as feeling unusually happy or sad, can occur.

While the primary goal of sedation dentistry is to make patients more at ease during dental treatments, being aware of these possible drawbacks allows for a more well-informed and assured approach to dental care.

dental professionals working on a patient

Selecting the Appropriate Sedation Option

When choosing a sedation type, consider your anxiety level, the procedure, and your dentist's recommendation. It's all about finding the perfect match that makes you feel at ease and more comfortable.

Remember, everyone is different. What works well for one person might not be the best fit for another. By considering your feelings, the specific dental work you need, and your dentist's advice, you can decide on the best type of sedation for your situation.

Preparing for a Sedation Dentistry Appointment

Do you feel nervous about going to the dentist? Many people do. Using something to help you relax can make it much easier. Here's a list of simple steps to help you prepare for a calm and easy dental visit:

Consultation: Discuss your medical history and any concerns with your dentist. This helps to determine the best sedation option for you.

Fasting: Depending on the type of sedation, you might need to fast for a certain period before your procedure.

Transportation: Arrange for someone to drive you home after the procedure, as the sedative effects may linger. Rest Well Before the Procedure: Try to get good sleep the night before. It helps you feel better during the visit.

Ask Questions: If you're unsure about something, ask your dentist. It's better to know everything you can.

Follow Dentist's Instructions: Your dentist might have special rules for you. Make sure to do what they say. Each of these steps helps you feel more relaxed and ready. Remember to talk to your dentist about which relaxing method is best for you. Then, follow these simple tips for a worry-free appointment.

Your Comfort, Our Priority

Unpleasant dental experiences are a thing of the past. At River's Edge Dental, we prioritize your comfort with our tailored sedation dentistry options. No matter your level of anxiety or the complexity of your dental procedure, we have a sedation method to suit your needs.

Schedule your appointment today and put your dental anxieties to rest.


Types of sedation dentistry have revolutionized the way patients experience dental care. From minimal sedation to general anesthesia, there's a solution to ease your dental anxiety and ensure a stress-free dentist visit.


Who is more vulnerable to sedation risks?

People who are older or have certain medical conditions—including heart disease, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, or a history of stroke—are at a higher risk when undergoing sedation.

Is sedation an option for all dental procedures?

While sedation is available for many dental procedures, its use depends on individual medical histories and the nature of the procedure.

What considerations are there for pregnant individuals?

Pregnant individuals should discuss this with their dentist and healthcare provider before opting for dental sedation. Most sedation forms, including IV and oral sedation and nitrous oxide, are typically not recommended during pregnancy.

Does insurance cover sedation dentistry?

Sedation dentistry may be covered by dental insurance in situations where it's deemed necessary due to specific medical conditions or intensive dental operations. Always consult with your insurance provider and discuss costs with your dentist.


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