Understanding the 3 Types of Sedation to Relax You in the Dental Chair

 Understanding the 3 Types of Sedation to Relax You in the Dental Chair

Sedation dentistry is an umbrella term used to describe the many different types of sedation available at the dentist’s office. In contrast to general anesthesia, sedation dentistry relaxes you, reduces jitters and fears, and blocks pain during your dental procedure, but you remain awake throughout your appointment. 

At The Masters Dental Group in San Antonio, Texas, our expert team offers three types of sedation — nitrous oxide, oral sedation, and intravenous (IV) sedation — so our patients have a comfortable dental experience. Here, we explore each type of sedation in more detail.

Inhaled nitrous oxide

Nitrous oxide, a gas made of two nitrogen atoms and one oxygen atom, is a mild form of sedation. When inhaled through a nasal hood 一 a special mask that covers your nose but not your mouth 一 you feel relaxed and calm. 

You may also feel happy or even giggly, which is how nitrous oxide earned its nickname: laughing gas. Some people report that their arms and legs feel heavy, but they remain alert and awake throughout your procedure. 

Once your procedure is over and you inhale oxygen to clear your lungs, you're ready to head home. Unlike other forms of sedation, nitrous oxide doesn’t require you to arrange for a friend or family member to drive you home.

Oral sedation

As the name suggests, oral sedation is a type of sedation that involves swallowing a pill, usually Halcion or Valium. Depending on the type and dose, oral sedation can provide mild to moderate sedation. 

Oral sedation requires a bit of pre-planning. For example, our team might instruct you to take your medication about an hour before your procedure. Because it can take time for the effects of oral sedation to set in, taking the pill beforehand ensures that you’re most comfortable during the procedure. 

Oral sedation makes you feel drowsy, but it’s not intended to make you fall asleep. You remain conscious throughout the procedure and should still be able to respond to your provider during your procedure. The effects linger, however, so you do need to arrange for someone to drive you home.

Intravenous sedation

Intravenous (IV) sedation involves administering the sedatives directly into your bloodstream. Because it bypasses the digestive tract, the effects are immediate, but it doesn’t put you to sleep. The sedative helps you to relax, and you can respond to prompts from your provider, but you won’t remember the procedure.

You may feel as if you’ve slept through the entire procedure and drowsy even after your IV is removed. IV sedation also requires a friend or family member to drive you home while the effects of the medication continue to wear off.

Choosing the right level of sedation

Many factors help determine which type of sedation is right for you, but this isn’t a decision you ever have to make on your own. Our team recommends the right level of sedation for you based on the complexity of your dental procedure, the severity of your anxiety, whether you have arranged for a ride home, and your overall health.

We also consider your preferences and how well you tolerate each method. For example, if you don’t like the feeling of laughing gas, you may opt for oral sedation. 

Benefits of sedation dentistry

Sedation dentistry is often used to help mitigate dental phobia or dental anxiety, but that’s just one of many benefits. In addition, sedation dentistry helps with:

To learn more about dental sedation or to schedule an appointment you’ve been putting off due to dental anxiety, contact The Masters Dental Group by calling 210-349-4424 today.

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