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We know some patients can be worried when going to the dentist. If fear has kept you from going to the dentist lately, sedation may be the answer you have been waiting for. Sedation dentistry offers an excellent way to provide a safe, anxiety-free, dental experience to those who are afraid of the dentist. One major benefit of sedation is many people feel that the procedure only lasted a few minutes, when actually the procedure could have gone on for hours!

Here are some advantages associated with sedation dentistry:

  • Anxiety is alleviated.
  • Few side effects.
  • More can be accomplished during each visit.
  • No needles.
  • No pain.
  • Perfectly safe.
  • Procedures seem to take less time.
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Kinds of Sedatives

The most popular types of dental sedatives are nitrous oxide, oral conscious sedation, and IV sedation. Different levels of sedation (mild, moderate and deep) can be utilized depending on individual needs. Before administering any sedative, the dentist must analyze the full medical history of the patient, as well as taking note of any current medications.

Here is an overview of some of the most common types of dental sedatives:

  • Nitrous Oxide Nitrous oxide1, or “laughing gas,” is used as a mild sedative. It is delivered through a nose hood, and is administered throughout the entire procedure. Nitrous oxide elevates the general mood and can evoke a general sense of well-being. Most importantly, it relieves anxiety and reduces pain during the procedure. In addition, some tingling and numbness may be felt. There are few side effects associated with nitrous oxide, and it has been safely used in dentistry for many years.
  • Oral Conscious Sedation Oral conscious sedation2 is an excellent choice for people who fear needles. Oral medication is provided prior to treatment in order to induce a moderate state of sedation. Though oral sedatives do not cause sleep, they usually dull the senses. This means that most patients cannot remember the pain, smells or noises associated with the procedure. Usually, a dose of medication is taken prior to the appointment, and then topped up during the procedure as required.
  • IV Sedation Intravenous sedation is a moderate type of sedation. Patients who have previously experienced IV Sedation3 often report feeling like they slept through the entire procedure, making IV sedation excellent for longer treatments. It is administered via direct injection into the bloodstream, which means the effects are immediate. Sometimes patients feel groggy and sleepy when the IV sedatives are withdrawn. This is why it is important to bring a designated driver for the drive home.
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Frequently Asked Questions

Do you feel pain with dental sedation?

No, you should not feel pain with dental sedation. The goal of dental sedation is to make you comfortable and relaxed so that you can have your procedure done with minimal discomfort.

How long does dentist sedation last?

The effects of dentist sedation can last for several hours. However, the duration will vary depending on the type of sedation used.

Can you feel anything with sedation?

Some people report feeling a sense of relaxation and mild euphoria during dental sedation. Others say they are mostly unaware of what is happening around them. Still, others report being able to hear and respond to questions from the dentist, but feeling no pain or discomfort. It varies from person to person.

How much does sedation dentistry cost?

The cost of dental sedation can vary depending on your level of anxiety, the type of sedation used, the type of procedure, the type of insurance coverage, and your dentist.


1 National Library of Medicine. Nitrous Oxide. Available: https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Nitrous-oxide.

2 Healthline. Tim Jewell. What is conscious sedation? Available: https://www.healthline.com/health/conscious-sedation.

3 American Society of Anesthesiologists. IV/Monitored sedation. Available: https://www.asahq.org/madeforthismoment/anesthesia-101/types-of-anesthesia/ivmonitored-sedation/.

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About author - Dr. Julian C

About the Author

Dr. Julian C. Leichter is a Harvard Fellow, and Boca Raton’s trusted leader in periodontics with more than 40 years of experience in natural tooth preservation, and implant preservation. His periodontal techniques continue to nurture many healthy smiles throughout Florida, and beyond.

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