Dental Sedation Options

Dental sedation is a safe and effective way to help patients overcome anxiety during visits to the dentist. It’s available for all types of procedures, from invasive treatments to basic tooth cleanings.


To prepare for a dental sedation appointment, patients should follow the specific instructions their dentist provides. This will usually include avoiding eating or drinking for 6-8 hours beforehand.

Nitrous oxide

Nitrous oxide, commonly known as “laughing gas,” is a safe and effective option for mild dental sedation. Known by its chemical name, N2O, it’s an odourless, colourless, and non-flammable gas that’s been used in healthcare for 150 years. It is a versatile sedation agent that can be delivered at concentrations ranging from 50-75% and can be used alongside other volatile inhalation agents, as well as oxygen. Its lower solubility in different tissues makes it one of the faster anesthetic agents for sedation and its maintenance, while its ability to increase arterial oxygenation helps decrease hypotension (low blood pressure).

After your dentist turns off the nitrous oxide valve, you will breathe pure oxygen through a mask until you’re fully awake. This allows your dentist to check that all the effects have worn off. You should eat before having nitrous oxide and avoid driving until your dentist tells you it’s safe to do so.

A number of drugs have been proven to induce moderate sedation in patients for the purpose of medical or dental surgical procedures, including midazolam, dexmedetomidine, and ketamine. However, the National Consensus Development Conference on Sedation in Pediatric Dentistry recommends that behavioral approaches are also useful to reduce patient apprehension and anxiety and help prevent the need for procedural sedation in many cases. These non-pharmacologic techniques have been shown to ease the transition into sedation, reduce the dose of sedation needed, and decrease the risk of complications (25). However, some children are simply too anxious or fearful to be treated without sedation.

Oral sedation

This sedation method involves ingesting a pill that is taken an hour before the appointment. This sedative allows you to be calm & comfortable, but still responsive. The effects usually wear off shortly after your appointment. This type of sedation can be used for patients with mild to moderate dental anxiety & those with physical problems like a small mouth, sensitive nerves or difficulty swallowing.

This form of sedation can also help you deal with any fear or anxiety about receiving shots or pain. However, numbing agents & shots will still be needed to reduce any discomfort that you might feel during the procedure.

Oral sedation is the most common type of sedative dentists use because it’s safe, effective and quick to take effect. It’s important to make sure the dentist you choose has been trained to use this sedation method and is experienced with it, especially when working with children or people with disabilities.

There are several different medications that can be used for oral sedation, but the most commonly used drug is Halcion, which belongs to the same family as Valium. This medication can produce a minimal or moderate level of sedation and makes you drowsy. Most patients remember very little about their appointment, and they can be awakened with a simple shake. It’s essential to have someone accompany you to & from your appointment if you are going to be orally sedated.

IV sedation

With IV sedation, medication is administered intravenously to induce a deep sleep. This option is typically reserved for more extensive treatments that involve longer time in the chair or surgical procedures like dental extractions. It is also used for patients with a fear of dentistry who cannot be calmed by oral sedation or nitrous oxide and may require a higher level of sedation to be comfortable.

This method is ideal for people who want to be completely relaxed and unconscious during their treatment. However, it requires a qualified dentist to administer the sedatives and monitor vital signs like heart rate and oxygen levels. It is also the most expensive sedation technique.

The dentist will insert a needle into a vein on your arm or hand. A numbing cream is applied to the injection site for comfort and safety. A small tube connected to the needle delivers the sedation into the bloodstream. The dentist will use a stethoscope to listen to your heartbeat and pulse to ensure that the level of sedation is appropriate for you.

You will probably feel groggy for several hours after the procedure. You should arrange for a friend or family member to drive you home afterwards. You should avoid strenuous activity, unapproved medications or alcohol, operating heavy machinery or making major life decisions for a few hours after your appointment.

Sedation dentistry at Ballas Dental

Medications used for dental sedation can be administered before or during your treatment to reduce anxiety and discomfort. These medications may be nitrous oxide, oral or IV sedation, depending on the level of sedation needed to make your appointment comfortable and stress free.

The mildest form of sedation involves breathing in nitrous oxide, commonly known as “laughing gas,” through a small mask placed over your nose. This type of sedation takes effect very quickly and wears off equally fast, allowing you to drive home after your appointment. This is ideal for patients with mild to moderate anxiety who want to avoid the groggy feeling associated with other forms of sedation.

Oral sedation is usually prescribed an hour before your appointment to help you feel relaxed and drowsy. It offers minimal to moderate relief and can be adjusted to offer more sedation, especially when combined with nitrous oxide or incremental triazolam. Because this type of sedation causes drowsiness, you will need to bring someone with you to and from your appointment.

Ballas Dental is a family-friendly clinic that provides preventive, general, sedation and cosmetic dentistry for the entire family. The clinic has an experienced team of dentists who offer a wide range of dental procedures, including X-rays, cleanings, crowns, implants and Invisalign. It also offers specialized care for children, the elderly and people with special needs.