Sedation Dentistry – Is It Safe?

Patient in a dentist chair receiving sedation through a nasal mask

Does the thought of sitting in the dentist’s chair make your entire body tense with fear as you imagine all the worse things?

If you fear the dentist, sedation dentistry may relieve some of your anxiety.

Much of that anxiety comes from the fear of the unknown, like whether sedation dentistry is safe.

So to remove some of that anxiety, let’s look at sedation dentistry and its safety.

What is sedation dentistry?

Sedation dentistry uses medication to help you relax during dental procedures. It’s sometimes called “sleep dentistry,” although that’s not entirely accurate.

Patients are usually awake, except for those who are under general anesthesia.

The levels of sedation used include:

  • Minimal sedation
  • Moderate sedation
  • Deep sedation
  • General anesthesia

What types of sedation are specifically used in dentistry?

The following sedation is used in dentistry:

Inhaled minimal sedation

You breathe nitrous oxide, also known as “laughing gas,” combined with oxygen through a mask placed over your nose. The amount of sedation you receive can be controlled by your dentist.

The effects of inhaled sedation wear off quickly.

This is the only form of sedation where you can drive yourself home after the procedure. However, this will need to be discussed with your doctor.

Oral sedation

Depending on the total dose, oral sedation can range from minimal to moderate.

You may take a pill for minimal sedation, usually about an hour before the procedure. The medication will make you drowsy, although you’ll still be awake.

You may be given a larger dose to produce moderate sedation. Most people think of this form of anesthesia when we talk about sedation dentistry.

Some people become groggy enough to fall asleep during the procedure.

IV moderate sedation

You receive the sedative through a vein, so it instantly goes to work. This method allows your dentist to adjust the level of sedation continually.

Deep sedation and general anesthesia

You will receive medications that make you either nearly unconscious or unconscious, and you will be deeply asleep during the procedure.

At Exceptional Smiles Family Dentistry, Dr. Eye II specializes in moderate Sedation for adults and can provide safe and effective oral conscious sedation.

Which option is safest?

The safest dental sedation for you is based on your medical history, medications, and many other factors.

  • Nitrous oxide is the least invasive and safest for most patients.
  • Oral sedation consists of anti-anxiety medication and, for many patients, is perfectly safe.
  • IV or sleep sedation involves semi-conscious sedation, but it can be a safe option for many patients when administered carefully.

Wrap up

In general, dental sedation is perfectly safe for the vast majority of patients.

It’s normal to feel unsure about a medication or procedure you’ve never experienced, so it’s important to ask questions.

If you need a dentist in Harrisonburg or Woodstock, VA, to help ease your fears, contact Exceptional Smiles Family Dentistry.

Ask us about your sedation options. It may be exactly what you need to have a beautiful smile and healthy teeth.

You can also download Dr.Eye’s ebook “Understanding Sedation Dentistry” to learn more today.

Our office is located in Harrisonburg, VA, and Woodstock, VA. We happily welcome patients from the neighboring communities, including Elkton, Woodstock, Bridgewater, Massanetta Springs, Keezletown, Pleasant Valley, Dayton, Zirkle, Massanutten, McGaheysville, New Market, Luray, Mount Jackson, Edinburg, and Weyers Cave, VA.