What is Sedation Dentistry?

Sedation dentistry is designed to help patients with dental anxiety or invasive dental procedures feel calm and comfortable during their dental appointments. The level of sedation varies from minimal to moderate, depending on the sedation chosen.

We discuss the types of sedation methods used, and their benefits, below. 

Make Dental Procedures More Comfortable

For some people, the idea of having dental work done can fill them with anxiety and fear. Nevertheless, they need dental care to maintain their oral health. Sedation dentistry can help make people feel more comfortable and at ease during their time in the dentist’s chair.

What Types of Sedation are Used?

There are many types of sedation available for your next dental procedure. However, the sedation methods will vary depending on the length and type of procedure, your level of anxiety, health history, and other factors. Your dentist will choose a type of sedation that they believe works best for your unique situation.

Toronto children's dentist making a young girl laugh

Nitrous Oxide Sedation

Nitrous oxide, more commonly known as “laughing gas,” is a popular type of sedation and is most frequently used for pediatric dentistry.

Laughing gas is extremely easy to provide because it does not require any needles or pills; you inhale the gas through either a mask or a nosepiece. It usually takes approximately three to five minutes for the sedation to kick in.

Laughing gas is minimal sedation, meaning patients are usually only drowsy. If the dentist sees that you are uncomfortable during your appointment, they can adjust the amount of sedation that you receive. Once the procedure is complete, dentists will typically switch the gas with oxygen to help flush the laughing gas out of your system.

IV Sedation

IV or intravenous sedatives are medications administered by your dentist directly to your bloodline via an IV line. IV sedation is much faster and stronger than both laughing gas and oral sedatives and is typically only provided for intensive procedures like impacted wisdom teeth removal and bone grafting.

IV sedation dentistry is the deepest form of sedation that any dental professional can provide at an office, and not all dentists will offer this method. Consulting with your dentist can help you figure out which route is best for you.

Oral Sedation

Oral conscious sedation is a sedative medication either in pill or syrup form. You take the sedative orally, hence its name. An oral sedative is given an hour before the procedure begins to let it take effect.

Oral sedation makes you feel drowsy, and it is not uncommon to fall asleep. It is a moderate sedation that is suitable for many patients and procedures.

What Happens During and After Sedation Dentistry?

Red-haired patient under conscious sedation

At the start of your dental appointment, you will be taken to the treatment room and asked to sit in the dentist’s chair. The dentist will give you the sedation medication before starting your procedure to allow it to take effect.

It’s important to note that the dentist will still give you a local anesthetic to numb your teeth and gums. The local anesthetic will be delivered after sedation to make it more comfortable. Patients can enjoy relaxed, pain-free dental work with sedation dentistry.

Once dental services are complete, the dentist will typically allow you to sit in the dental chair for a short time to let the sedation wear off. Patients who selected nitrous oxide will be able to drive home, whereas those who had IV or oral sedatives will need a trusted friend or family member to drive them. They will need to rest for several hours to let the sedatives wear off.

Your Dentist Takes Your Health Seriously

During your first visit to the dentist, they will get to know your medical history, comfort levels, and other information to determine whether sedation is right for you. If they believe that it is, they will discuss it with you to get your consent.

During moderate and deep sedation like IV sedation, dentists will monitor your vital signs, such as your heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen levels. They will also only provide you with the recommended dose.


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