While there are very few people who look forward to visiting the dentists, 36% of the population suffers to some degree of actual fear at the thought. And a further 12% suffer fear so extreme that it amounts to a phobia (Dentophobia, to give it its clinical name). This is where sedation dentistry comes in.

What is Sedation Dentistry?

Sedation dentistry is when the dentist administers sedatives before or during the dental procedure to help the patient cope with both pain and feelings of anxiety. Depending on the type of sedative used, this will induce varying levels of sedation, from mild relaxation to total unconsciousness.

The Different Types of Dental Sedation Drugs

Nitrous oxide 

Nitrous oxide is the most commonly used type of dental sedation. It’s used for patients that require only a little bit of relaxation to be comfortable during the procedure. It can also be used with patients that are still uncomfortable after oral sedation.

The gas slows down the body’s reaction time, making you feel calm and euphoric. It also works as a painkiller. The effects are short-term and wear off quickly. If your dentist plans to administer nitrous oxide, check with them whether you can drive yourself home after the procedure, and avoid eating anything heavy for at least three hours before the procedure to avoid nausea.

The administration of nitrous oxide is fairly simple and the effects can be felt as soon as 30 seconds from inhaling the gas. 

Oral sedatives

Sedatives which can be administered orally, such as diazepam, are often used for longer procedures or with patients who have higher levels of anxiety. They are usually taken before the appointment, usually an hour or so, but in some cases, they can be administered the night before. 

This allows the patient to arrive for their appointment in a calm and relaxed state of mind. The effects are long-lasting and can induce sleepiness. In some cases, patients don’t even remember the procedure after taking these compounds. So if you are taking oral sedatives you will have to make arrangements for a ride to your appointment and home.

Intravenous sedatives

Intravenous sedatives are administered in the dentist’s surgery during the procedure. As the name suggests, the anesthesia is administered through an IV. The time it takes to take effect is usually very fast and the patient will become either sleepy, on the edge of consciousness, or fully asleep.

They are used for longer procedures or for very sensitive ones, where the patient needs to be sedated but still able to react and respond to questions.

This type of dental sedation requires the patient to go through a physical assessment and in some cases approval from their physician. This is all because the medication used in IV sedation is pretty strong and requires the patient to be completely healthy to be safe to administer.

When a patient needs to get general anesthesia, there needs to be a certified anesthesiologist present. Recently, many dentists get certified for administering general anesthesia so their patients can get a complete service in one place.


Mask for Anesthesia in Operating Room. Unrecognizible Doctor Holds Mask in Hands.

Dental Procedures That Require Sedation

Sedation dentistry has a double function. As well as helping people with the pain of a dental procedure, it also helps people overcome their fear of the dentist. This means it could be used for procedures that are relatively painless or even just for a regular check-up, depending on the patient’s level of anxiety. However, there are some procedures that we would always recommend some level of sedation for, even if you have no dental fear whatever. These are:

  • Wisdom tooth extraction. Even when a wisdom tooth extraction goes smoothly, it can be a traumatic experience for the patient. And if the tooth is impacted or there are other complications it is worse.
  • Bone grafting. This procedure involves staying still and holding your mouth open for extended periods of time. A certain level of sedation makes this more bearable.
  • Emergency dentistry. If you have to undergo emergency dentistry, it will be as a result of trauma to the mouth. Sedation will help you to cope with both the procedure and the mental aftereffects of the trauma.
  • Fitting crowns and bridges. As this procedure also necessitates sitting still with an open mouth for extended periods of time, we also recommend sedation.

Can Dentists Provide Every Type of Dental Sedation?

When it comes to sedation dentistry, not all dental offices provide every type of dental sedation. Some do, but a lot of them offer oral sedation and nitrous oxide or laughing gas.

Dental offices such as Gables Sedation and Dentistry offer all types of dental sedation to their patients. This requires the dental offices to have certified staff for IV sedation and general anesthesia. 

What Type of Dental Sedation Should You Choose?

To choose the right type of sedation, the patient should consult their dentist and talk about their fears and concerns. The experts will surely recommend a specific type of sedation that will make the patient the most comfortable during the procedure, but in some cases, the patient will need to visit their physician as well to get approval.

Having a clean bill of health is important, especially for deep sedation techniques because different patients respond differently to specific types of drugs. During general anesthesia, patients are usually hooked up to medical equipment that monitors their vitals throughout the procedure.

When it comes to choosing the right type of sedation, it’s important to be aware of what kind of procedure you’ll be going through and how nervous you are during it. If you’re visiting your dentist for simple teeth cleaning, the best solution would be to choose nitrous oxide. If the procedure lasts longer and might be more painful, oral sedation will do the trick.

When it comes to IV sedation or general anesthesia, you should only ask for those if it’s the dentist’s recommendation. Those are more serious types of dental sedation techniques that shouldn’t be used lightly.

Dentist Treat Teeth of Woman Patient in Dental Clinic

What to Expect From Your Dentist?

No one should be shy if they have a genuine fear of visiting the dentist or any type of medical procedure. Even if some procedures are simple and painless for some, it still causes a lot of anxiety and discomfort to others. Professionals with experience are aware that some people avoid going to the dentist because of this, so they offer comfort to those who are afraid to have a seat in the dentist’s chair.

Even if you don’t say it directly, any dentist will notice your discomfort as soon as you arrive for your appointment. It’s important to be honest about the issues you’re having because these professionals can make you feel more comfortable during any type of procedure but also point out why you shouldn’t be scared in the first place.

Visiting the Dentist is Painless

When you have trustworthy dentists such as the team at Gables Sedation, the level of anxiety you feel before your appointment can even be reduced if you feel comfortable around the staff. For those who still can’t relax before or during their dental procedures, there are a few types of sedation techniques that work like a charm. Some of them put the patients to sleep while others make the procedures pain-free and the patients sometimes don’t even remember going to the dentist’s office.

Do you feel anxious before going to the dentist? If you do, or you know someone who is genuinely afraid to visit the dentist, feel free to share this article with them.