Does the thought of going to the dentist make your entire body tense with fear? Would you rather endure the agony of a toothache than step foot in a dentist’s office? You’re not alone. A lot of people are so phobic about going to the dentist that they prefer not to have any treatment.

For people who avoid dentists, sedation dentistry may take away some of their anxiety. Sedation can be used for everything from invasive procedures to a simple tooth cleaning. There are several options available- from nitrous oxide (laughing gas) to IV sedation.

What Is Sedation Dentistry?

Sedation dentistry uses medication to help patients relax during dental procedures. It’s sometimes referred to as “sleep dentistry,” although that’s not entirely accurate. Patients are usually awake. This is called conscious sedation.

The type of sedation that you receive at a dentist’s office varies based on your level of anxiety and the type of exam or procedure you are having. IV sedation, also known as conscious sedation, is a sort of middle ground and it doesn’t fully put you to sleep. It does make you less aware of what is going on around you during your procedure or treatment. While some forms of sedation are inhaled (like nitrous oxide) or are taken in pill form, IV sedation is administered through intravenously through a vein.

What options are available?

Local anesthesia: The most common type of anesthesia used is a local anesthesia. This prevents pain in a specific part of a patient’s mouth. This works by blocking the nerves to that area. We often use a topical anesthesia before using local anesthesia. This helps to numb the area before we inject the local anesthesia. This is most often used for cavities.

Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas): an inhaled gas that helps you relax. Wears off quickly once the gas is stopped.

Oral Sedation: A pill is administered that helps you feel relaxed and comfortable. Has longer term effects and requires someone to drive you to and from your appointment.

IV Sedation: A deeper sedation that requires an (it currently has and) IV to be placed. Medications are given to help you feel very relaxed and allows you to snooze through your appointment.