woman getting dental work with eyes closed

What Types of Sedation Do Dentists Use?

For some people, visiting the dentist can be a challenge. Young children and people with anxiety or other medical conditions may need special accommodations. Fortunately, sedation dentistry can make both simple and complex procedures more bearable. In this post, we’ll explore the four different types of sedation dentists typically use to ensure safe and comfortable treatments. 

Four Types of Sedation Used in Dentistry

1: Nitrous Oxide Sedation (Laughing Gas)

Nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas, is a mild sedative administered through a mask that fits comfortably over your nose. It kicks in quickly, and helps you feel more relaxed and comfortable during routine dental procedures. Laughing gas wears off quickly, so you won’t have to wait long if you need to drive home after your procedure. 

This type of sedation is ideal for minor procedures such as fillings, cleanings, or simple extractions. Laughing gas is a great option for patients with mild dental anxiety, and is safe for both children and adults. 

2: Conscious IV Sedation

The next level, known as conscious sedation, involves administering a sedative through an intravenous (IV) line. Like laughing gas, this form of sedation takes effect quickly. However, it is stronger than nitrous oxide and induces a semi-awake state of consciousness. You will need someone to drive you home after your appointment, as it can take several hours to wear off. 

You might fall asleep under conscious sedation, but you will still be able to respond to verbal cues. You will also have little to no memory of the procedure afterward, even if you stayed awake. Patients who have moderate anxiety often opt for conscious sedation to help them feel more comfortable during longer procedures like root canals. It is also ideal for patients who feel pain when they remain seated for prolonged periods of time, or have a strong gag reflex

3: Deep Sedation

Like conscious sedation, deep sedation is also administered through an IV, and it takes effect quickly. However, this level of sedation uses stronger drugs that induce a state of unconsciousness and deep relaxation. You will not be responsive when under deep sedation. You will also need a ride home from your appointment.

Deep sedation is typically used for extensive dental procedures, such as dental implant surgery. This form of sedation is administered by an anesthesiologist or specially trained dentist. Patients with severe dental anxiety may require deep sedation to ensure a comfortable, anxiety-free procedure. It can also help suppress a strong gag reflex. 

4: General Anesthesia

The deepest form of sedation, general anesthesia, causes a temporary loss of consciousness and complete unawareness of the dental procedure. It is administered by an anesthesiologist, and typically involves a combination of intravenous drugs and inhaled gas to induce and maintain a state of unconsciousness. It takes effect quickly, but it can take up to 24 hours to wear off, so you will need someone to drive you home from your appointment.

General anesthesia is used for complex dental surgeries or procedures that require complete unconsciousness, such as extracting impacted wisdom teeth or a complex dental implant surgery. It may also be used for patients with severe dental anxiety or those with a strong gag reflex, if other types of sedation are not enough. 

Safe Sedation Dentistry in South Jordan, Utah

Sedation can help alleviate your anxiety and discomfort during dental appointments. Whether you have a fear of the dentist, are undergoing an extensive treatment, or are unable to sit still for long periods, sedation dentistry can help you get the care you need. 

At Copper Creek Dental, we offer several types of sedation—in tandem with close monitoring—to keep you safe and relaxed during your visit. To make an appointment at our Daybreak office, call us at 801-280-1911 today. 

Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (5/20/2024). Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels

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