Frequently Asked Questions About Sedation Dentistry


What is Sedation Dentistry?
Sedation dentistry involves a dental professional who is medically certified to administer anti-anxiety medication at the time of your dental procedure in the form of sedation. We will review your medical history before any procedure to ensure that you're a safe candidate for the form of sedation you will receive during your visit.
What Training Does My Dentist and Office Team Have?
Most states require sedation dentists and their office teams to have the proper training, a permit, and certification. We are also required to have proper monitoring and safety equipment in the office to keep you safe and comfortable throughout your dental procedure.
What Does Sedation Do for Patients?
Sedation is provided in a variety of forms to help patients deal with a number of conditions, including anxiety, dental phobias, and to reduce pain during procedures. Some forms also lower cognition (awareness) to help keep a patient calm as well as decrease memories of procedures that may otherwise be uncomfortable afterward. Please visit our sedation dentistry page to learn more
Is Dental Sedation for Everyone?
There are many procedures during which dental patients will benefit from sedation, but it is not required for all patients on all occasions.
Who Benefits from Sedation Dentistry?
There are many patients who benefit from sedation dentistry, depending on their unique circumstances. Some examples of when it would be administered include the following:
  • Patients who deal with high dental anxiety or fear
  • Patients with pre-conditions with their jaw that prevent them from keeping their mouths open for long periods
  • Patients with low pain thresholds
  • Patients with severe gag reflexes
  • Patients who need a lot of dental work done at once
  • Patients with physical limitations
  • Patients with sensitive teeth
  • Children
  • Patients who have had traumatic dental care experiences in the past
  • Patients who cannot handle the smells and sounds of dental work
  • Patients who have overly sensitive teeth
What if I'm Not Afraid of the Dentist? Would I Still Benefit?
Many people who have no fear of dental work or dentists still benefit from dental sedation. Many times, this is during painful procedures, but it also benefits patients having multiple procedures in a single day. In fact, with dental sedation, this kind of visit is possible which allows patients to save time, discomfort, and money.
Questions About Sedation Dentisry
What Types of Sedation are Used in Sedation Dentistry?
There are three basic types of sedation dentistry: conscious, twilight, and unconscious sedation.

Conscious Sedation

involves low doses of non-sleep-inducing medications, including local anesthetic to numb pain, oral tablets, and nitrous oxide. These sedation techniques are used for mild dental work, reducing anxiety, and numbing pain.

Twilight Sedation

is the second form of sedation. This form leaves patients conscious but extremely sleepy and relaxed. This form is usually administered via IV or nitrous oxide and is used for mid-level procedures.

Unconscious Sedation

is the final form of sedation, also known as general anesthesia. This is administered via breathing mask or IV and used for intensive dental surgery or patients who are resistant to other types of sedation.

Which Form Of Sedation Is The Most Common In Dentistry?
Oral sedation in the form of tablet or nitrous oxide is the most common form of sedation used in procedures. The type of procedure a patient is having will determine what level of sedation is required, which will, in turn, determine what form it will come in.
What Kind of Medication is Administered for Dental Sedation?

There are several medication options that can be used for dental sedation. Most will be within a class of medication called benzodiazepines. Oral tablets will likely be Diazepam or Triazolam. Shots would generally be Midazolam, while IV medications are usually Midazolam or Propofol.

Other medications in sedation include nitrous oxide, a gas sometimes referred to as laughing gas.

How Does Oral Sedation Work?

There are two forms of oral sedation. If you are taking a tablet, you will simply swallow the tablet with water and wait for the effects to kick in.

The other form of oral sedation is nitrous oxide, which is administered through a hose that pumps the gas into the mouth and/or nose cover.

Does Dental Insurance Cover the Cost of Sedation?

Every dental insurance plan provides different benefits. You should contact your insurance provider to understand what procedures are covered and at what percentage.

Does Dental Sedation Make You Fall Asleep?

Conscious sedation will not cause you to fall asleep. Unconscious sedation will cause you to grow unconscious once the medicine takes effect.

Will I Still Feel Any Pain While Under Sedation?

Local anesthetics are used to numb pain, while sedatives will lower your awareness of any additional pain that could arise during dental procedures. You will most likely feel little to no pain and will actually feel relaxed and comfortable before, during, and after your procedure(s).

Is Sedation Dentistry Safe?

Sedation dentistry is safe for the majority of patients. There may be mild side effects for some patients. There are, however, always some risks with any kind of medical procedure, including dental work. Your medical history should be discussed with your dentist.

Is Sedation Dentistry Safe For Children?

Dental sedation is safe for both children and adults. In fact, it is often administered to children to help with their anxiety and fear during dental visits.

What Are the Side Effects of Dental Sedation?

One of the primary side effects of dental sedation is actually intentional: temporary mild amnesia effects. Another postoperative effect is reduced soreness in the treated and surrounding areas.

On rare occasions, patients may experience nausea from nitrous oxide or hiccups from various forms of sedation. Other side effects may include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Slow reflexes
  • Low blood pressure
  • Headaches
  • A feeling of "being sick"
  • Feeling heavy or sluggish
What is the Recovery Time After Sedation?

Recovery time for every patient is different, but for most conscious sedation applications, recovery is fairly quick. Most patients are alert shortly after their procedure. You will need someone to drive you home, however, and should not drive or operate heavy machinery, or make important decisions for 24 hours after your procedure.

Do I Need to Prepare for a Sedation Visit?

For nitrous oxide, you do not need to prepare apart from arranging for a driver (not an Uber, taxi, or other forms of shared or public transit). If you are having oral or IV sedation, however, you may receive a prescription for a sedative to take the night before your appointment. You will also receive a complete list of pre-treatment instructions.