Dental Sedation – What Does it Feel Like?

Sedation can be a lifesaver for those with dental anxiety. But what does it feel like?


Nitrous oxide (laughing gas) is the least invasive and most common type of sedation. It is administered through a small mask over your nose. It has a fruity scent and will make you relaxed within minutes.

Nitrous oxide

Nitrous oxide is an odorless, colorless gas that helps you relax. It is inhaled through a plastic mask placed over the nose. The sedative takes effect within minutes, but does not put you to sleep. The sedative does not impair your judgment or interfere with your ability to respond to questions from the dentist or their assistants. This type of sedation is often used for children, since it makes them feel calm and happy during treatment.

The dentist may ask you to refrain from eating or drinking for a few hours before the procedure. However, you should continue to take any routine medications that you usually take without interruption. You should also inform the dentist if you are taking blood thinners, such as warfarin. They may advise you to skip these medications before your appointment, but only if they consider it safe for you.

Inhalation sedation allows the dentist to control the level of sedation, which wears off quickly. It is not ideal for young children, however, since it does not suppress the gag reflex. It is also not as effective as other types of sedation, such as oral conscious sedation or IV sedation. The patient must be monitored carefully while under sedation, and the dentist must know their medical history to avoid adverse reactions. For this reason, it is important to choose a sedation professional who has extensive experience and has a record of safety.


Benzodiazepines are one of several conscious sedation drugs dentists may use to ease anxiety. The sedatives make patients less aware of their surroundings and reduce pain, according to the National Institutes of Health. But they aren’t the same as general anesthesia, which renders a patient unconscious and is typically used for longer and more extensive procedures.

During oral conscious sedation, dentists give patients a pill about an hour before their procedure starts. The dosage depends on the level of sedation required. Generally, the sedatives are not strong enough to put patients to sleep but can cause them to drowse. The drug’s effects last for the duration of the procedure and afterward.

A dentist can also administer sedatives through an IV. This method of sedation has many benefits, including a quick onset and rapid wear off. However, there are some drawbacks to intravenous sedation, such as the risk of infection and the possibility that a patient can resist the medication.

A dentist who chooses to administer sedation through an IV can monitor the patient’s heart rate, blood pressure and temperature. The dentist can also adjust the drug’s dosage as needed to achieve the desired result. This type of sedation is usually reserved for more serious cases, such as those that involve children. For children, a parent or guardian can stay in the treatment room until the sedative begins to take effect.

Oral sedation

Many patients have legitimate anxiety about seeing the dentist. Fortunately, there are multiple dental sedation options available to reduce these feelings. For example, many people are comfortable with nitrous oxide, which is inhaled through a nosepiece. Others may need more serious sedation. Depending on your unique situation, we can recommend the best type of dental sedation.

For oral sedation, your dentist gives you medication in pill form an hour or so before the procedure begins. Some of the most popular sedative medications include triazolam (Halcion(r)), diazepam (Valium(r)), and zaleplon. The sedatives decrease activity in parts of the brain that cause fear & anxiety. You may become groggy enough to fall asleep, but your dentist can easily wake you up.

Before undergoing sedation, it is important to ensure that your dentist has experience & credentials. Also, make sure to tell your doctor about any other prescribed meds you take or chronic medical conditions that you have. This will help to ensure that the sedatives are safe for you to take.

If you are taking oral sedation, it is a good idea to bring someone with you to drive you to & from the appointment. Because the sedatives can slow your reaction time, it is not safe to drive while under its effects. In addition, you will need a day off from work afterward to recover fully.

IV sedation

IV sedation (also known as “twilight sleep”) uses anti-anxiety drugs that are pumped directly into your bloodstream. This is the highest level of dental sedation and can be used for patients who have severe anxiety or fear, or for those who will be having long or complex procedures such as oral surgery. It can also be used to help manage pain during and after the procedure. This type of sedation can produce a period of amnesia, so it is a good choice for those who don’t remember their dental visits or have poor memories from previous procedures.

This is usually administered by a dentist who has received specific training in the management of intravenous sedation. Often, it is used in conjunction with general anesthesia. It is important that the dentist receive advanced training in this area to ensure that the patient is safe and comfortable during treatment.

Patients undergoing this level of sedation will be monitored closely by the dentist and anesthesiologist throughout the appointment. This is done using electronic equipment that measures blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen levels. It is normal to feel drowsy following this type of sedation and patients are recommended to have someone take them home afterwards. They should also plan to rest for the remainder of the day and to avoid strenuous activities.