Dental Sedation For Fearful Dentists

Over 30 million Americans avoid dentists out of fear. If you are one of them, sedation dentistry could be the answer.


There are multiple types of sedation, ranging from minimal to deep. The most common is oral sedation, where you take a pill (usually Halcion, similar to Valium) an hour before your appointment.

Oral Sedation

This type of sedation is administered in the form of a pill that you will take prior to your appointment. Depending on the strength, it may take up to an hour for the medication to kick in. Once it does, you will feel drowsy and calm. Your negative emotions will fade away & you may even experience a tingling sensation accompanied by a feeling of heaviness in your limbs.

During this procedure, your dentist will carefully monitor your heart rate, blood pressure & breathing to ensure that the effects remain steady. Depending on the strength, you might be groggy enough to fall asleep, but your dentist will be able to wake you up with a gentle shake. If you receive oral sedation, it is best to have someone drive you home afterward as the medicine can impair your judgement & coordination.

This form of sedation helps patients who are genuinely afraid of going to the dentist. It will not reduce any pain or discomfort that you might experience, but it can alleviate your anxiety to the point where you can handle the actual treatment. It is also good for people with a fear of needles because it can help them get past the dreaded shot that so many dental patients dread. Most patients don’t remember anything about the actual sedation procedure or their treatment afterwards.

IV Sedation

If you suffer from severe dental anxiety or are undergoing a complicated procedure, then IV sedation may be the best option for you. This method is also called “sleep” dentistry, and it allows patients to relax during the entire treatment. It also minimizes pain and ensures that patients do not have any recollection of the experience afterward. Moreover, it helps dentists get more done in the same amount of time as the patient is so relaxed that they can cooperate better.

When using IV sedation, the dentist will inject anti-anxiety drugs into your bloodstream through an intravenous needle in the arm or hand. Before administering the drug, a numbing cream might be applied to prevent any discomfort. The dentist can easily control the level of sedation. You will be awake during the procedure, but you won’t feel any pain or anxiety. This is because of the amnesia that is a typical side effect of this type of sedation.

It is essential to inform your dentist about any medical condition that you have and what medications you are taking before you decide on the right sedation technique for you. You must also make sure that you do not take any narcotics for two days before your appointment, as these can interfere with the effectiveness of the sedation. Lastly, your dentist will check your vitals to make sure you are healthy enough for this type of sedation.

Nitrous Oxide

If you’re a patient who is extremely fearful of going to the dentist, sedation can make your appointment much more comfortable. From invasive procedures to a simple tooth cleaning, sedation can help ease your anxiety and allow you to have the dental treatment that you need.

Nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas, is an inhaled minimal sedation method that is safe for most patients. A mask is placed over the nose, and patients simply have to breathe it in. It starts to work immediately and makes many patients feel silly and giggly. This is one of the only forms of sedation where a patient can drive themselves home after their appointment, and it typically wears off quickly.

Unlike oral sedation, which can be addictive, laughing gas does not. It can, however, interact with certain medications such as blood thinners and psychiatric drugs, so it is important to tell your dentist about any prescription or over-the-counter drugs that you take.

If you’re receiving this form of sedation, it is a good idea to have an escort with you for your appointment so that they can drive you back after the procedure. After the sedation is turned off, patients need to receive oxygen for at least five minutes, which will flush out any remaining nitrous oxide from their lungs and airway.

Schedule Your Appointment

Whether you’re afraid of visiting the dentist or just need some help overcoming your anxiety, dental sedation can be a great solution. Contact a 123Dentist member to learn more about the different sedation options and schedule your appointment!

Sedation can be divided into 3 main types: Inhaled minimal sedation, oral sedation and IV sedation. Inhaled minimal sedation uses nitrous oxide, better known as laughing gas, combined with oxygen to help patients relax. Unlike anesthesia, the effects of nitrous oxide wear off quickly and can be controlled by the dentist.

Oral sedation is prescription medication that you take the night before and/or an hour before your appointment to make you drowsy but conscious and calm. Depending on the dose, some patients become groggy enough to fall asleep during their procedures but can be awakened with a gentle shake.

With IV sedation, your dentist injects a medication directly into the bloodstream. This type of sedation allows the dentist to closely monitor and adjust your level of sedation. While it’s not the most affordable form of sedation, it’s a safe and effective choice for many patients with high levels of anxiety. It also prevents patients from squirming and can allow the dentist to work faster.