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What Is Sedation Dentistry Like?

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Does the thought of going in for a dental visit set your teeth on edge? A lot of people have a strong desire to avoid going to a dentist. This is usually because of a bad childhood experience with a dentist who did not specialize in dealing with children. That is why pediatric dentists are so popular today. Whether your dental trauma was caused in childhood or later for some other reason, you probably come up with every excuse you can to avoid going to the dentist. Of course, you're not doing your oral health any favors by staying away. You can even be harming the rest of your body, as oral health is intimately tied to overall physical health.

The good news is that advances in modern dentistry have made it a much more pleasant experience than it was in the past. You can get through most visits with little to no discomfort at all. However, if you are still apprehensive about visiting a dentist, you should look into sedation dentistry. It is gaining more popularity among dental-phobes all over the world. But what is sedation dentistry? Here's the explanation you need before making your first appointment, as well as what a typical sedation dentistry visit is like.

1. What Is Sedation Dentistry?

Sedation dentistry is all about relaxation. Dentists who practice it know every patient is different. Some can't stand the thought of going in for a simple cleaning, while others are okay as long as no drilling is used. The sedation dentist provides the patient with a level of sedation that is appropriate to get them to relax and feel perfectly comfortable and at ease with whatever procedure they're getting.

The sedation may be administered at the office when the patient arrives, or the patient may be given a prescription to fill before coming in and take the sedation medication first (and have a driver to bring them to and from their appointment, naturally).

2. What Is a Sedation Dentistry Visit Like?

According to, the visit all depends on the patient and the level of sedation they are receiving. Most patients do not receive general anesthesia that puts them completely to sleep unless they are getting a major procedure done, such as pulling multiple teeth or wisdom teeth.

Instead, the level of sedation will depend on the patient's needs. Aside from general anesthesia, the levels of sedation that can be given at a sedation dentistry visit include:

  • Mild sedation, where you are awake, but in a relaxed state
  • Moderate sedation, where you will be awake for the procedure, but probably won't remember much, if anything, about it (amnesia drugs are given for this level of sedation)
  • Strong sedation, where you are basically asleep, but can be awakened without difficulty if needed

What Types of Sedation Medications Are Used?

The most common type of sedation used is oral. In this type of sedation dentistry, you take a sedative pill, usually Valium or something similar, about an hour before your procedure. The amount you take will depend on the degree of sedation you and your dentist have agreed you need for your comfort and relaxation during the dental work.

Some dentists use nitrous oxide when you arrive at the office. It relaxes you during the procedure, but wears off quickly afterward, enabling you to drive yourself home. This may be an appropriate choice if you can't get someone to drive you to and from your appointment.

IV sedation is used for heavy sedation or for general anesthesia. It is rare that someone may need these, but they are available if necessary, such as for a long or particularly difficult or painful procedure.


Sedation dentistry is an excellent choice if you have a hard time with the prospect of going to the dentist. Getting sedation before your procedure will ensure you can get the dental work you need to keep your mouth and body healthy and strong. Go to sites or ask your dentist about sedation dentistry and make that appointment to reclaim the health of your teeth again!