Sedation Dentistry: What It Is and What are the Different Types

Sedation dentistry is a popular sedative option for those who are nervous about going to the dentist or undergoing dental care. Dentists can use this form of anesthesia in combination with other forms, such as nitrous oxide and local anesthetic injections so patients feel safe and relaxed during their treatment. 

Patients often have no memory of what happened under this kind of therapy. Also, there’s little chance for anxiety, fear, pain, or stress when sedated. Dentists use sedatives to safely perform services such as cosmetic dental procedures or tooth extractions on patients. 

Different Types of Sedation Dentistry

Below are some of the sedatives commonly used in sedation dentistry:

Inhaled Minimal Sedation

You breathe in nitrous oxide, otherwise known as “laughing gas,” and it helps you relax. Your dentist can adjust the amount of sedation according to your needs. 

This type of sedative only works when inhaling the gas while wearing a mask over one’s nose to help with deep breaths. 

Oral Sedation

Oral sedation is the most common form of anesthesia for patients who are very fearful or anxious. There’s a range, from minimal to moderate sedation, with some people becoming drowsy enough that they fall asleep during treatment!

Depending on your dental procedure and needs, you can take oral medication in order to experience either mild sedative effects (like feeling groggy) or more intense ones (such as sleep).

IV Moderate Sedation

The dentist can sedate you in a very swift way using this technique. You don’t have to worry about it taking too long for the drug to work, or getting an overdose. 

Deep Sedation and General Anesthesia

You may not be fully conscious during your surgery. This is because you will have medications injected into your body that put you in a deep, dreamless sleep called general anesthesia. 

The upside to this sedation technique? You won’t feel any pain during the procedure! Sedatives are fast acting and make patients lose consciousness almost immediately.

Different Levels of Sedation

Mild Sedation

Sedatives are a great way to calm nerves and keep patients relaxed. Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas as it is more commonly known, can be used during dental procedures to help the patient stay conscious while still feeling completely at ease and comfortable. 

Patients will breathe on their own without being out of control from anesthesia drugs that would knock them unconscious for surgery. The nitrous oxide allows dentists to perform services with ease knowing that the person in front of them is breathing just fine.

Moderate Sedation

Oral medication and intravenous sedation (IV sedation) can help patients who experience more moderate levels of dental anxiety. Patients may receive an oral pill before their appointment to take the edge off, but in some cases dentists will also administer a shot directly into the bloodstream for faster relief.

As the sedation starts to wear off, you may feel a little woozy and need help getting home. The post-procedure effects of moderate sedation are only temporary, which is why it’s recommended that someone responsible drives you back home after your surgery.

Deep Sedation

If you’re looking for a quick fix, deep sedation might be your best bet. In fact, it’s the most common form of anesthesia used during complex procedures like root canals and dental implants. 

General anesthesia is administered to patients who are made unconscious with breathing assistance through tubes inserted in their nose or mouth that allow them to breathe without moving any muscles.