Sedation dentistry helps people who experience anxiety about visiting their dentist to feel more calm and relaxed. There is a misconception that sedation means putting you to sleep, but in reality, most sedatives allow you to remain awake during your dental treatment. Sedation is a safe way to alleviate the anxiety you may experience, and most sedatives can be taken orally, and for those types of sedatives, no injections equals no additional anxiety about needles, and no pain. If you are going to take a sedative, have a friend or family member give you a ride to and from your dental visit, or take a cab or ride share service. Driving after being sedated is not advisable.
The most popular forms of sedatives are:
- Nitrous oxide - also known as laughing gas. It’s a mild sedative that’s administered through a nose hood, throughout the length of your dental procedure. It often leaves patients in a better mood while relieving anxiety and reducing pain. Some tingling and numbness may be felt, but it has been safely used in dentistry for many years.
- Oral conscious sedation - this is a great choice if you’re afraid of needles and prefer to stay away from IV sedation. The oral medication is given to you prior to treatment to induce a moderate sedation state. While they don’t cause you to fall asleep, they dull the senses, and most patients don’t remember the smells, noises, or pain associated with the dental procedure that was performed on them. The most common drugs used in oral sedation are Valium®, Ativan®, Versed® and Halcion®.
- IV sedation, or intravenous sedation is administered through a direct injection into the bloodstream. Patients feel the effects immediately, and may feel groggy or sleepy after the IV sedatives are withdrawn. A designated driver is a requirement if you choose this form of sedation.