Sedation Dentistry: The Definitive Guide (2020)

Author: Dr. Reem Kidess | Posted on with 0 comments

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Sedation Dentistry Begginer’s Guide

Dental visits can be very daunting, even with adults. In fact, reading this might have taken you back to your childhood years when you’d do anything just to skip the dreaded visit.

It seems like a visit to the dentist can either mean a tooth getting painfully extracted, your teeth being uncomfortably cleaned, a needle injected, or mental images of accidents involving the many sharp objects tinkering with your teeth. All of these can be the reasons why most of us find sitting in a dentist chair hardly comfortable.

Though we all know that dentists wanted to do what’s best for our teeth, visits usually come with pain involved. This makes us fear it so much to the point of not seeking dental help as soon as possible, until our teeth problems have gotten worse.

Luckily, more ways have been developed in order to make dental visits less painful (and scary). Now we can enjoy every dentist visit and procedure, thanks to Sedation Dentistry.

What is Sedation Dentistry?

Sedation Dentistry works by easing anxiety among dental patients with the use of medicines to perform necessary dental procedures. If anxiety and fear is what’s keeping you from relaxing in a dentist’s chair, sedation will make it easier for you.

Some would call it ‘sleep dentistry’ but that can’t be very trusting as sedation can give you different levels of consciousness. In fact, 2 out of the 4 mostly known sedation levels have patients completely conscious during the entire procedure.

Here’s how these four levels of sedation differ:

Minimal Sedation or Anxiolysis

This makes a medicine-induced patient relieves their anxiety, but still be verbally responsive during the entire procedure. There will be, however, temporary impairments in cognitive function and physical coordination.

For this level, patients will be awake, will be able to answer questions, but they’d be so relaxed. This type of sedation is done if the dentist will need the patient to be involved in the procedure.

Moderate Sedation or Conscious Sedation

Slurred words, temporary disorientation, and drowsiness can be the effects of moderate sedation. The goal is to still be awake, but you won’t remember anything you said or what happened once your normal consciousness kicks in.

Deep Sedation or Analgesia

This level makes a patient fall asleep, but can still be awakened if needed. This makes the patient totally unaware of what’s happening during the procedure.

Patients cannot be easily awakened by pain, unless it’s simultaneously repeated, or has triggered a highly painful reaction to the patient.

Even if you’re awakened by pain, you will still feel relaxed than normal and can go back to being unconscious once the medicine subsides. Most patients on a Deep Sedation level won’t be able to remember anything about the procedure after.

General Anesthesia

This level of sedation makes patients totally unconscious during the entire procedure. This is usually done during surgeries and highly risky medical procedures. Patients will not be awakened nor can respond to any pain.

A seasoned anesthesiologist should be called in to administer General Anesthesia to patients. They’d record and maintain your vital signs while administering the medication, to make you ready for the procedure.

Though very safe, the risks in using general anesthesia depends on the type of procedure you’ll be getting. Dental practitioners would mostly recommend you to have this type of sedation if:

  • You’ll be getting a highly extensive procedure, for example, having severely impacted wisdom tooth extraction.
  • You have a high tolerance on medications for the mild levels of sedation.
  • You still can’t cooperate after having been sedated. These are rare cases, but some patients have a really hard time controlling their anxiety.
  • You’ll be getting very complex oral surgeries.

These levels of sedation may have different effects on people. Age, current medical condition and even health habits can also contribute different effects on the type of sedation you should be getting for a procedure. During the sedation process, make sure to be completely honest with your dentists so they can properly recommend the right level for you.

Are there different types of sedation?

Yes, there are! The best thing about Sedation Dentistry is that you can choose how you want the medicine to be administered to you, and most of them don’t require needles. At. All. Whew!

You can be sedated through the following methods:


Breathing in Nitrous Oxide, most commonly known as the ‘Laughing Gas’ is enough to get you sedated for dental procedures. This process is done by combining Nitrous Oxide with oxygen, while letting it pass through a mask placed over your nose.

This type of sedation used in dentistry has its share of pros and cons:


Nitrous oxide is known for providing the safest conscious sedation for dental patients. Once it’s inhaled, the effect can reach its peak within a matter of minutes. Recovery is just as fast as its effects.

With Nitrous Oxide used as sedative, you can bounce back to your normal state quickly right after your dental procedure. So driving yourself home after won’t be a problem.


Nitrous Oxide has the lowest potency among other types of sedation. If the patient has a high tolerance on medicines and sedatives, this might not put them into such desired state. Also, the effects of Nitrous Oxide depends on how willing the patient is to inhale the gas. If a patient is not breathing it in properly, the effects cannot be felt.

Oral Sedation

Another type to be happy about for the non-needle enthusiasts is oral sedation. With just a pop of a strong pill, you can be sedated and ready for your dental procedure. But take note, oral sedation can only be applicable to patients who will only be needing minimal to moderate sedation.


Oral pills are what humanity has grown to be very accustomed to. To most, it’s the least scary version of taking your medication– more reasons to stay calm, right?

Some sedatives taken orally can reach an effect of temporary amnesia. This can be good with patients who don’t want to tamper their memories with a painful experience with a dentist. High dosage of Benzodiazepines can cause little to no memory of the procedure.


Like any oral medications, oral, sedative will take longer to take effect. Dentists would make patients wait for at least an hour for it to peak.

Since it takes its effect longer, dentists can only tell if the person has high tolerance to sedatives after the time it should reach its peak. Our bodies react differently to medicines, that’s why oral sedatives can be quite difficult to control.

Additionally, you might be needing to find yourself a chaperone to take you to the dentist if you’ve taken this sedative at home. Driving while on sedatives, even if it hasn’t yet taken effect, can be very dangerous.

IV Sedation

If you’re the toughie kind and needles don’t really bother you, then we suggest you go for IV. Short for Intravenous Sedation, it’s a type of method wherein medication is passed straight into the patient’s veins.


IV is the best way to administer medication if you want the quickest way to take effect. Medication will be passed into your bloodstream, initiating the effects of the sedative in a matter of seconds.

It’s the easiest method for dentists and other medical practitioners as they can easily see the effect of the medicine in each person. This helps them control the dosage that works best for you.

Also, IV sedation minimizes gag reflex, which is one of the discomforts you feel during dental procedures. This can also erase your memories of the whole experience, which can prevent you from remembering this painful visit.


Budget-wise, IV can be a bit pricier than others. But like any other medical treatment that works best, you’ll get what you’ve paid for.

Preparing for sedation

Whether it’s for any type of sedation, you should get you and your body prepared before getting administered. These guidelines are also recommended before you take any dental surgery. Know what to do and to not do before being sedated.

Before sedation, you should:

  • Fast 6 hours before your appointment, or as prescribed by your dentist. General Anesthesia and IV sedation will require your body to take in its effect quickly.
  • Wear comfortable clothes you can get in your closet– jammies included! Dentists would prefer you to be very comfortable even if it means dressing for it.
  • Take all prescribed medications, your dentist told you. This will aid sedatives or anesthesia to work better on your body.
  • Report any other medical intake– even if it’s your daily vitamins– to your dentist. This is to know the possibility of side effects and other triggers your body may perform during sedation and the dental procedure.
  • Mention to your dentist if you are sick or have been sick lately. High temperature levels can result in cancellation of procedures. Congestion may also be difficult if you’ll be using Nitrous Oxygen as sedative.
  • Ask someone to accompany you, especially if you’re getting IV sedation or General Anesthesia.
  • Tell your dentist if you’re suffering from asthma. Most of the time, nebulizers will be required before sedation to aid with possible asthma attacks.
  • Remove your eye contacts if you’re wearing any before being sedated.

Before sedation, you shouldn’t do any of these:

  • Don’t eat any solid, semi-solid, especially dairy food in your 6-hour window fast. It is essential to follow eating guidelines to avoid possible disasters during sedation.
  • Never drink any kind of liquid 2 hours prior to the procedure, or as the dentist prescribed.
  • Don’t wear tight clothes, such as leggings or thermals, as well as belts and other accessories during the procedure. IV sedation and General Anesthesia will sometimes require access to your hands and feet. You might be advised to wear medical gowns, but it can get too cold for you. Best to dress appropriately!
  • Don’t wear nail polish or any kind of nail accessory. A probe will be placed on your finger to monitor your vital signs. Heavy makeup is discouraged, while men are encouraged to come cleanly shaved.
  • Don’t start the procedure with wet hair. Your body’s temperature may drop as you sleep. Some patients woke up from sedation shivering due to cold because of wet hair.
    Avoid alcohol 24 hours before the procedure. Your body will need time to eliminate alcohol from your body, which can mess up with sedative intake.

Recovery after sedation

Post-sedation instructions must also be strictly followed. Patients can feel groggy or a little disoriented after the procedure, that’s why safety measures must be done.

After the procedure, make sure to:

  • Follow instructions from your dentist as soon as you regain consciousness.
  • Take the medications provided for you if there’s any. Best to have someone with you so they can fully grasp the instructions for you after the procedure.
  • Take your time moving. Sit, stand, lie down or walk slowly according to your pace. Don’t try to move normally as soon as you get conscious.
  • Take your liquids as soon as possible. Dehydration can come shortly after the 2-hour liquid fast.
  • Eat non-solid food first, while slowly working your way to solid food.
  • Resume your other medications right after you’ve taken your liquids.
  • You should never do this after the procedure:
  • Do not drive, cook, or do any strenuous activity. Veer away from operating machinery as you can find yourself a little weak and groggy from the sedatives.
  • Avoid going to work after the procedure. It is advisable to take a rest after the procedure. Deciding on important matters or signing confidential papers may not be advised when you’re still feeling the effects of sedatives.
  • Don’t take alcohol or sleeping pills. Sedatives will have you feeling drowsy so there’s no need for that. Smoking is also not advised.
  • Refrain from eating any kinds or dairy just yet. Follow a healthy diet as prescribed by your dentist. This will help you avoid getting nauseous after the procedure.

What are the Pros and Cons of Sedation Dentistry

sedation dentistry side effectsIs Sedation Dentistry safe? How can you be sure that it’s the best for you? Here’s to guide you better so you’d know what to expect.


Aside from keeping you calm and easing your anxiety, there are numerous benefits you can get from this procedure. Let’s start from the many benefits you can get from Sedation Dentistry.

Trauma-less procedures

Anxiety attacks during dental appointments can happen. If you still haven’t recovered from a childhood trauma brought by dental visits, sedation dentistry will help you a lot on that.

Sedatives will get you in a calmer state, making you feel or think less about your traumatic experience before.

Even if you think you can handle it, certain bodily movements while you’re nervous about the procedure can make it hard for you and your dentist too. With a calm mind, you’ll be able to rest better while the dentist performs the necessary procedure.

Less painful visits

Pain will be reduced instantly as your mouth will feel numb from feeling any kind of pain while sedated. This can also depend on the level of sedation, as there are procedures that may need you to still feel a little pain and to be able to respond to your dentist.

You won’t remember any of it

Who wants to remember seeing all that blood and sharp objects getting in your mouth during a dental surgery? Absolutely no one. Sedation Dentistry aids in giving you Anterograde Amnesia, making you totally forget about what happened.

Outcomes after any dental procedure will surely be favorable. It’s the actual procedure, we’re all fearing. Forgetting all about the procedure and realizing your teeth are now in their best state can’t feel any better.

Gag reflex reduction

If you don’t really mind the pain, you can’t help but think about your gag reflexes, especially if you’ll be getting a very long dental procedure. It’s that hard to not keep gagging, right?

With Sedation Dentistry, you don’t have to worry about any of that. Gag reflexes are triggered by nervousness and anxiety– even if that means not thinking about the pain. With you in a calmer state, the need to gag once in a while will be instantly reduced.

Better for dentists too

Dentists can do their work better with a calmer patient. Anxiety and fear can make any patient do a lot of unnecessary movements, making the procedure longer than it should be.

Sedation Dentistry is made to make everyone feel better during any dental procedure. Even dentists understand that it’s impossible to relax if you’re the one sitting in a dentist chair.


There’s not so much talk about the disadvantages of Sedation Dentistry. But like any other medical procedures, it comes with certain drawbacks that you must be aware of.

You have to have time for it

You might be at the peak of your work, studies or project, but you should be able to make time for a dental procedure, especially if you have to be sedated.

Not eating the day before, and the recovery time after the procedure can take you away from doing your daily tasks. It’s best to schedule dental procedures at the most convenient time for you.

You will need to ask someone a favor

Whether it’s your spouse, a friend, or a family member, you will need someone to take care of you after getting conscious from being sedated.

For most sedation types, you won’t be able to drive home or walk properly. Someone should also be there to take the advice from your dentist as you’ll be a bit disoriented after the procedure.

It can get pretty costly

Dental insurance may not be able to save you from this. Sedation Dentistry is one of the procedures that are not entirely covered by most medical insurance companies. You may have to pay a portion of the total bills upfront.

Ask your dentist to give you the total cost of the whole procedure, and make sure you’re prepared for that.

Finding the right people for your dental needs

It pays to fully trust your dentist. Even if you can’t keep your calm during dental appointments, knowing you’re with the best people can help you relax somehow. Here’s how to find the right people for your next dental procedure, with or without Sedation Dentistry involved:


If you’re a very busy person, travelling just to get to your dentist can be time-consuming. Make sure to look for a dentist that’s nearest your area, or at least can be very easy to reach.

If you’re around Scottsdale area, our facility is located at 7373 N. Scottsdale Road, Suite A-220. That’s where you’ll find the best dental practitioners in town.

Office and Facilities

The look and feel of any dental office can also help ease your anxieties. If it’s favorable to you, you’ll be less stressed about your upcoming procedure.

At Reem Kidess, we made our office conveniently engineered for our clients. We also make sure we’re up-to-date with the latest dental facilities to make your dental appointments even better.

Reviews and Ratings

One way to ease your fear is knowing you’re in the best hands. Research the internet and look out for reviews and ratings of other people. This will help you find the best clinic that specializes in your current condition.

With 5-star ratings for the best online and health providers, you’re sure to know that we at Reem Kidess clinic will take good care of you.

Satisfied customers

Industry ratings can tell something, but it’s best to hear it from the customers themselves. Read comments, participate in online discussions and forums to know the best dental clinic there is.

We treat our customers like family, and we strive to do the best procedures that we can be able to help them in their dental needs. You can check out what our clients have to say and see for yourself.

Helpful and Friendly Staff

When you’re having an anxiety attack, the best people to help you get through it should be able to make you feel calm.

Our staff consists of nice and friendly people who do their best to help our clients. Serving and helping you get the best out of your dental visits is our priority.

Online accessibility

Not anyone will have time to visit the clinic as soon as possible. That’s why scheduling your appointments online can be very handy, especially for busy people like you.

At Reem Kidess, aside from booking your appointments online, we also offer online consultations for your convenience. This will save you the extra hassle of travelling to our location for minor consultations.

Last words about Sedation Dentistry

Sedation Dentistry is a practice made to ease a dental patient’s anxiety. It has been the most effective and safe for any kind of dental procedure.

Depending on your body’s condition and the type of procedure you’ll be getting, you can be sedated in different levels.

Minimal, Moderate, Deep Sedation helps you remain conscious during your procedure but more relaxed. Special procedures require General Anesthesia, wherein patients are totally unconscious.

Taking sedatives can now be a breeze with a lot of available options. You can inhale it, take it orally, or get administered through IV.

Safety guidelines must be followed before and after sedation. It’s important to follow them strictly, and as stated by your dentist.

Pros and cons of Sedation Dentistry must be given enough importance. You should be prepared and know what to expect before going through any of it.

Anxiety and fear for dental procedures is easier to handle if you’re with the right people in the field. Check us out at Reem Kidess Dental Clinic and see how we can help you with your dental needs better.

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