Sedation Dentistry


Sedation dentistry is used to provide patients with a relaxing and anxiety-free experience during their dental treatment. Dental fear or anxiety affects approximately 36 percent of the population, according to Medical Principles and Practice journal, with an additional 12 percent suffering from extreme dental fear. With sedation dentistry, patients can undergo the procedures they need without this accompanied fear or stress.

Different medications are used during sedation dentistry to put patients at ease and calm any worries or fears of the procedure. There are three main types of sedation dentistry available to patients: nitrous oxide, oral sedation, and IV sedation. Sedation dentistry is typically used in combination with local anesthetics.

3 Types of Sedation Dentistry

Nitrous Oxide

Nitrous oxide, more commonly known as “laughing gas,” is a safe and effective sedative agent commonly used in dentistry. The sedative agent is combined with oxygen and inhaled through a small mask over the mouth. While receiving nitrous oxide, the patient is still awake, alert, and can respond to instructions or requests.

It’s normal to feel some tingling in the arms and legs while receiving laughing gas. Some patients may also feel slightly light-headed. Ultimately, the patient should experience a calming effect. Soon after removing the mask, the effects of nitrous oxide wear off.

Nitrous oxide is best suited for patients who:

  • Have a severe gag reflex that interferes with their dental care needs
  • Have special health care requirements
  • Are fearful or anxious during dental treatments
  • Are undergoing a lengthy or particularly complex dental procedure

The biggest benefit of nitrous oxide is that it works quickly to help patients relax and minimizes any discomfort felt during the dental procedure. It is also safe for both children and adults.

Oral Sedation

Oral sedation, also referred to as “pill sedation,” is an effective way to help dental patients remain calm and comfortable during dental procedures. With this type of sedation, a patient is prescribed a sedative in the form of a pill which they are instructed to take in the hours leading up to the appointment.

An oral sedative is a type of Benzodiazepine that can go by many names, such as Xanax, Valium, or Halcion. Soon after taking the medication, the patient will begin to feel calm and relaxed. This is due to decreased activity in the parts of the brain that are responsible for anxiety and fear.

There are several key advantages of using oral sedation. First, it is simple to administer as you only need to swallow a pill about an hour before their appointment time. There are no needles involved and the patient remains awake but drowsy. Oral sedatives also have an amnesia effect, meaning the patient is unlikely to remember the procedure.

IV Sedation

Intravenous (IV) sedation is the administering of an anti-anxiety medication through the blood. Also referred to as “twilight dentistry,” intravenous sedation helps put patients at ease during dental procedures. IV sedation involves putting a thin needle connected to an intravenous tube into the arm or hand. This tube delivers the sedative directly into the bloodstream.

While under IV sedation, the dentist will continuously monitor your oxygen levels and pulse to ensure that you do not have a negative reaction to the drug. It’s normal to feel groggy after the procedure and a friend or family member must be available to drive you home.

IV sedation can offer a wide range of benefits to patients. It is suitable for patients with severe gag reflexes and will not impact body processes. The effects of the drug through the bloodstream are felt in just a short amount of time and most patients have little to no recollection of what occurred during the procedure. There is also usually less discomfort after the procedure compared to alternative forms of sedation dentistry.

Contact Us About Sedation Dentistry

Many patients rely on sedation dentistry to help them relieve fear and stress during dental procedures. However, it is not always easy to find a dentist that offers sedation dentistry. Bonham Dental Arts offers all three types of sedation dentistry administered by trained and licensed professionals. For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact Bonham today.