In dentistry, conscious sedation is used to help patients overcome dental anxiety or phobias. Conscious sedation, unlike general anesthesia, leaves you awake and aware of your surroundings. You won’t fall asleep during your dental procedure, but you will be completely relaxed and at ease. Here’s everything you need to know about our conscious sedation options.
The mildest form of conscious sedation is nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas. It has little-to-no risks or side effects, and it wears off seconds after we stop administering it, so you can usually continue with your day and don’t need someone to drive you home after your appointment.
You’ll inhale a mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen through a small mask placed over your nose. Patients typically feel more calm in a matter of minutes. Feelings of heaviness and tingling in the arms and legs, as well as lightheadedness, are among the most common side effects. Less commonly, nitrous oxide may cause headaches or nausea.
Conscious Oral Sedation
We also offer conscious oral sedation. For patients with more severe dental anxiety, this may be a more appropriate level of sedation. A sedative medication will be prescribed by your dentist, which you will take in the office about an hour before your treatment. Although you will feel drowsy during your appointment, you will remain awake and responsive.
Because conscious oral sedation takes longer to wear off than nitrous oxide, you’ll need to arrange for someone to drive you home and remain with you for the day. If you choose conscious oral sedation for your treatment, we recommend taking the rest of the day off of work to relax.
Is Conscious Sedation Right For You?
Because conscious sedation has few serious dangers or side effects, it can be used by practically any patient, assuming no contraindications exist. The following are some of the reasons you might want to consider the option of using conscious sedation for your dental treatment or procedure:
- You have severe dental phobia that causes you to put off important dental care, avoid going to the dentist for years, or live with painful oral health conditions rather than getting the care you need
- You have dental anxiety, which causes you to feel worried and even panicky at the thought of going to the dentist
- A prior bad experience with a dentist has left you feeling fearful of getting dental work
- You need extensive dental work
- You have a fear of needles
- You have a sensitive gag reflex, making dental work difficult to tolerate
- You have a condition that makes it difficult to control your movements, such as cerebral palsy or Parkinson’s disease
- You have hypersensitive teeth
Young children and patients with special needs may also require conscious sedation to ensure that their dental treatments are trauma-free.
We’ll talk to you about conscious sedation options during your consultation or before your appointment. It’s also worth noting that sedation is always used in conjunction with local anesthetic, ensuring that you’re relaxed and comfortable throughout any treatment. Many patients find that local anesthetic and our dentists’ gentle, compassionate care is enough to make them feel at ease in our office, but if you need additional help relaxing, you can be assured that conscious sedation is a safe and effective option.