Does sedation dentistry really work?

Dentophobia is a real problem, and one that affects many people. It’s no secret that the dentist isn’t everybody’s favorite place to be; in fact, some people would rather stick their head in a lion’s mouth than go through with another root canal. Fortunately for them – and anyone else who suffers from dental anxiety – there is such a thing as sedation dentistry. The question is: does it really work?

What Is Sedation Dentistry?

Simply put, sedation dentistry involves using medication to help patients relax during dental procedures. There are a few different types of sedatives used for this purpose:

  • Nitrous oxide: this is commonly known as “laughing gas.” It’s delivered through a mask placed over your nose, and provides mild relaxation and pain relief.
  • Oral sedatives: these come in pill form, usually taken an hour or so before your procedure begins. They can provide varying degrees of relaxation depending on the dosage.
  • IV (intravenous) sedatives: similar to oral sedatives but administered directly into your veins.

The type of sedative used will depend on several factors including the patient’s level of fear or anxiety about going to the dentist.

Does Sedation Dentistry Actually Work?

Yes! And I’m not just saying that because I get paid by Big Dental^(TM), either. Studies have shown that patients tend to report less anxiety when they’re under conscious (no comment) sedation compared with being completely awake[1].

That being said, how effective it is will depend on various factors such as:

1) Individual tolerance levels

Some people are more tolerant than others when it comes to medications in general, so they may require higher doses for adequate pain relief or relaxation.

2) Choice/type of drug

Just like every medication affects each of us differently, different sedatives may be more or less effective for certain individuals. Nitrous oxide, for example, may offer sufficient relaxation for some patients but not others who require a stronger drug.

3) Level of fear/anxiety

It goes without saying that if someone is totally freaking out about an upcoming procedure and/or terrified of the dentist in general, they’ll probably need a higher level of sedation to help them relax.

The Pros and Cons Of Sedation Dentistry

As with most things in life(and particularly anything related to dentists) there are both pros and cons when it comes to using conscious sedation during dental procedures:


  • Reduced anxiety: The main reason people opt for sedation dentistry is because it can significantly reduce their stress levels around going to the dentist.
  • Pain relief: Some types of drugs used in dental procedures include pain-relieving agents which can make getting work done a lot easier.
  • Time-saving: Patients who undergo deep (let’s call them knock-you-out), IV-based[2] types of sedation often come away from their appointment feeling like almost no time has passed – even if they’ve been sitting in the chair[3] for hours.


  • Costly(ish): One downside is that this approach isn’t always covered by insurance plans[4]
  • Potential side effects: Depending on what type(s) of drugs you’re receiving as part/side effect could have problems such as dizziness, nausea or headaches afterwards
  • It won’t stave off your fears – While it will help you deal with anxiety before/ during a procedure/most probably doing nothing much good post-procedure since your fear would come back sooner than later.

(Well aren’t we cheery…)

Who Should Try Sedation Dentistry?

While sedation dentistry can be a godsend for some people, it’s important to note that not everyone needs it (or wants it). It’s generally thought of as an option for patients who experience mild to moderate anxiety/fear when going to the dentist. However, there are some groups of people who may find conscious sedation particularly helpful:

  • Patients with strong/frequent dental phobias: Those whose fear is so bad that they avoid getting regular check-ups or necessary treatment should definitely consider talking to their dentist about this possibility.
  • People undergoing extensive procedures: The longer/ more complex a procedure such as major surgery can leave room/necessitate conscious/deep level sedation which will help relax and improve pain management.[5]

How To Prepare For Sedation Dentistry

So you’ve decided to go down the path(/chose your poison) of relaxing during your next appointment – what do you need know[6] ?

1) Separate transportation:

Depending on how deeply you'll be sedated,    it may not be safe,flying around like Superman without a cape, or even allowed for you drive yourself home afterwards.So remember - ask someone else/Uber is your friend

2 ) Time aside

if we prelisten/assume our readers have had one visit(Root canal anyone?),an average visit takes between forty-five minutes/three hours(INSANE) .so depending on which type(level?) of medication administered,you should plan resting/recovering time accordingly. 

3) Hunger induced meltdown? NO THANKS!

Generally speaking,dietary restrictions apply before any dosage(most commonly manifested banning food totally eight hours before),and post-dosage ,soft foods only in initial period if medically needed/convenient.

Last Words

Whilst Sedative dentistry seems amazing and screams gentle breeze than shaking blast – it is important to consider factors such as Patient health, associated risks, potential cost and relevant preparation before making a decision. Consultation with your dentist would help you make an informed/ enlightened choice when considering/if sedative dentistry is the option for you.

So next time you have unsavoury dread at just thought of that rickity leather chair think Sedation Dentistry(thank me later).

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