Understanding the Different Types of Sedation

Sep 01, 2023
Understanding the Different Types of Sedation
Whether you need a complex dental procedure or simply feel anxious at the dentist’s office, sedation dentistry keeps you comfortable — physically and emotionally, too. Following is a breakdown to help you understand your sedation options. 

No matter what provokes your worry when it comes to the dentist’s office, sedation dentistry takes the edge off that worry by keeping you calm and pain-free. Your dentist uses sedation dentistry for:

  • Oral surgery
  • Tooth extraction
  • Root canals
  • Periodontal treatment

But sedation dentistry does more than simply numb the pain associated with surgery or other complex procedures. You can also request, or we may recommend, sedation dentistry if you:

  • Have a low tolerance for pain
  • Are fidgety
  • Have a sensitive gag reflex
  • Have extremely sensitive teeth

Addie Chang, DMD, our expert family dentist, helps you choose when sedation dentistry benefits you. At our clinic in Tukwila, Washington, she also helps you decide which type of sedation will best suit your needs.

Are you interested in learning more about your sedation dentistry options? Following is a brief guide.

Inhaled sedation

If you want to breathe easy during your procedure, start by breathing some “laughing gas.” Clinically known as nitrous oxide (NO), laughing gas has been used as a sedation method in the dentist’s office since 1844

Safe, effective, and short-lasting, NO has many advantages over other methods, including the way it makes you feel. Even if you don’t actually laugh out loud, after inhaling NO, you enter a state that’s both relaxed and euphoric. 

You stay awake with NO. You feel calm, not drowsy. However, even though you’re awake, you might not remember your procedure later. 

Another plus for NO is that its sedative effects quickly wear off after your dental procedure. Once we give you the OK, you’re alert enough to drive yourself home, if you wish. 

Oral sedation

Our oral sedation is a prescription pill that we ask you to take about 45 minutes before your appointment, so that it has time to work. One of the oral sedatives we work with is called Halcion (i.e., triazolom). Usually, Halcion is used to treat insomnia, so its effects are long-lasting.

When you opt for oral sedation, you must have somebody drive you to and from your appointment. You won’t be alert enough to drive or even take public transportation for many hours. 

During your procedure, you’re usually conscious, but in a sort of twilight state — similar to that feeling you have just before you fall asleep. You may actually fall asleep for brief periods, too.

Injected sedation

In cases of extreme dental fears, an inability to keep still, or a very complex or long procedure, you may choose injected sedation. The drug enters your bloodstream immediately so that the effects are very quick-acting.

With injected sedation, you fall into a deep sleep. As with oral sedation, injected sedation takes many hours to wear off. You need to arrange for someone to drive you home. You should also take off work that day. Be sure to take it easy at home and don’t do anything that requires your full attention.

If you’re still not sure which sedation option is best for you, don’t worry about that, either! We discuss all of your options, as well as your procedure, during your appointment so that you can feel confident about your choice.

Relax and get the dental procedures you need with sedation dentistry. Simply contact our team by phone or online form today to schedule an appointment.