Sedation Dentistry Modalities

Sedation dentistry can help people who are excessively anxious about going to the dentist get their dental work done. Sedation dentistry is a good option for individuals with severe dental phobia, which means they may avoid seeing a dentist because of fear and anxiety around it.

Sedation Dentistry in A Nutshell

Sedation is a process that can be established through the use of sedatives. Sedative drugs, such as tranquilizers or depressants, are used to relax and calm an anxious patient so they will not feel pain during dental procedures.

In the past, intravenous (IV) sedation was predominantly administered via injection into the veins into  one’s hand or arm for relaxing purposes but now it has been replaced by more advanced technology with better results.

Today, patients have a variety of options to choose from when they want their dental procedures done. The most popular alternative is sedation dentistry by means of “laughing gas” or nitrous oxide and IVs which many people find more appealing than traditional methods.

Many prefer the said option as it has been known to offer a safer experience with fewer side effects.

Sedation Dentistry Modalities

The sedative methods used for sedation dentistry vary in strength and purpose. Your dentist will select the method that is best for you based on what treatments are being performed, how long these procedures take, and your level of anxiety.

Although your dentist ultimately determines which drugs to use, it’s a good idea to request stronger ones if you suffer from severe anxiety because they can make surgery easier even though there may be some minor side effects such as feeling tired or sleepy afterwards.


When people are anxious about a procedure, Inhalation analgesia (also known as nitrous oxide or “laughing gas”) is administered to relieve any anxiety. It’s done through the use of a small nose-hood placed over the nose and it provides minimal sedative effects before treatment begins.

In addition to some tingling and numbness, nitrous oxide typically evokes an overall feeling of well-being. It is important for you to be open and honest with your dentist about any past drug use or current medical conditions so that an appropriate medication may be selected.

Moderate Sedation

Oral sedation or oral conscious sedation (OCS) is defined by a depressed level of consciousness, meaning you can breathe independently, retain your reflexes and respond to verbal/physical stimulation.

OCS creates moderate sedation via orally administered medication before the appointment that diminishes awareness of pain, sounds and smells for dental patients. Patients are instructed to take the medication prior to being driven by a responsible caregiver, and may receive additional medicine as needed at their appointments.

Deep Sedation

Deep sedation is a state of depressed consciousness where patients lose some reflexes and can’t respond to verbal or physical stimulation. This type of anesthesia does not fall under the category that we normally think about for dentistry, but it’s another option when other forms are either unavailable or undesirable.

This level of sedation is typically achieved with IV sedation or general anesthesia medications, the effects of which may linger for hours after you leave.

General Anesthesia

General anesthesia is a type of sedation that can be used for surgery or severe dental work. Not all people are good candidates as it has potential risks but those who need to avoid pain during treatments may qualify as long as they have been thoroughly screened by their dentist and anesthesiologist before going through with the treatment plan.