Oral Sedation Dentistry

 In Yaletown Dental Blog

Are you scared to even step foot in the dentist’s office? Would you rather endure the pain associated to dental problems instead of experience a dental procedure? Do you avoid dental visits for years? If so, you’re definitely not alone. Thousands of people are nervous of the dentist and fair enough. Pieces of metal and drills don’t exactly exude fun. However, most Vancouver dentists set out to make any dental procedure as comfortable and relaxed as they possible can be. Sometimes patients even turn to oral sedation as a way to get the necessary procedure done and not be riddled with fear the entire time. So what is oral sedation dentistry, what types of sedation techniques are available, who is this type of dentistry right for, and what are the benefits and risks?

What is oral sedation dentistry?

Some people avoid dentistry like it’s the plague. Sedation dentistry can take away from any anxiety you may be feeling during a simple to complex procedure. Sedation techniques can be used anywhere between a regular teeth cleaning to an invasive procedure. Also known as sleep dentistry, sedation dentistry uses medication to help people relax. However, patients are typically awake during the procedure except for those who go under general anesthesia.

There are 4 levels of sedation dentistry:

  1. Minimal sedation: the patient is awake but relaxed
  2. Moderate sedation: the patient may slur words while awake and may not remember the procedure
  3. Deep sedation: the patient is on the edge of consciousness but may still be awakened
  4. General anesthesia: The patient is completely unconscious

What are the different types/techniques of oral sedation dentistry?

Inhaled minimal sedation: The patient breathes nitrous gas, otherwise known as laughing gas coupled with oxygen. It is inhaled through a mask that is placed over the nose. The dentist is able to control the level of sedation in order to determine the level of relaxation.

Oral sedation: Depending on the dosage, oral sedation can provide minimal to moderate sedation. Minimal sedation requires the use of a pill, (typically Halcion) which is part of the same family as Valium. The pill is generally taken approximately an hour before the procedure. A larger dose may be administered to result in moderate sedation.

IV moderate sedation: The patient receives the sedation through a vein. This allows the dentist to constantly adjust the level of sedation throughout the procedure.

Deep sedation and general anesthesia: Medications are administered that will make the patient unconscious or almost unconscious. If the patient goes under general anesthesia, he or she will be asleep until the effects of the anesthesia wear off.

Who should choose sedation dentistry?

Anyone who is nervous about visiting the dentist’s office or is scared to go forward with a procedure because of the associated pain should talk to his or her dentist about the possibility of sedation dentistry.

What are the benefits and risks of sedation dentistry?


  • You can undergo procedures you might be otherwise nervous to try
  • Alleviate any anxiety and let your body relax for optimal results and fast healing
  • More dental visits means a healthier mouth and a healthier body


Although it is usually safe, there is always a risk when you decide to go under general anesthesia. However, certain people including those who are obese or have obstructive sleep apnea should discuss the risks with their doctor before choosing that type of sedation. It is also important to ensure your dentist is fully trained and qualified to administer the type of sedation that you choose.

If you are worried about the dentist or haven’t gone through with an oral procedure you need because you’re scared of the pain or discomfort, discuss your sedation possibilities with your dentist and achieve a healthier mouth and a healthier body.

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