Dental Sedation

Understanding Dental Sedation: Why There’s Nothing to be Afraid OfSedation by definition is administering a drug to keep you calm or put you to sleep. In Ontario, the use of sedatives in dental offices is regulated by Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario (RCDSO).

If you’re the type of person who gets easily scared and anxious about going to the dentist for a dental procedure, you are more likely to cancel your appointment or delay the visit. Many of us become scared of going to the dentist because of bad childhood memories or from transfer of anxiety from someone who has dentally related anxiety. This can be from any dental procedure but usually is associated with the discomfort following a tooth extraction.

However, going to the dentist doesn’t necessarily mean experiencing intense pain. With new developments in the world of dentistry, there are now better dental sedation drugs to keep you calm and relaxed as you undergo a dental procedure. These solutions not only make the dental procedure less frightening, they also prevent you from feeling anything when the dentist is performing the treatment procedures.

Anxiety can Go Away!

When you are feeling anxious, your tolerance to pain decreases, leading to hypersensitivity to even the smallest sensations, noises, and pricks. Anxiety and fear triggers your body to release certain bio-chemicals like adrenaline, which can trigger your fight or flight response. You anticipate something that’s going to place you in a lot of pain, so your muscles tense even when all there is is just anticipation of pain. With dental sedation drugs, all these negative feelings melt away, making you feel calm and relaxed in the operating table or dentist’s chair. They’re a huge help to patients who need a push to get over their anxiety and fear of a dental procedure. Most patients say that they don’t feel anything at all as they go through a dental procedure when sedated.

Taking Sedatives

So, the point of taking dental sedation drugs is to make your experience at the dentist as comfortable as possible. Even with simple operations like tooth extractions, some people are so terrified of the pain that they think they will not be able to take it, so they’d rather live with a tooth problem than to have a dentist provide the proper treatment.

By taking sedatives, dental operations can be a breeze as time and space become less perceptible and before you realize it, it’s over and you are on your way out of the office. In order to choose which type of sedation is right for you, it’s helpful to understand different levels of sedation and the different types of sedatives used by dentists.

Types of Sedation

There are several types of sedative drugs used by dentists and oral surgeons. These sedations are administered in different ways, but they offer the same effect of calmness and relaxation. The most common ones are:

1. Inhaled minimal sedation

Understanding Dental Sedation: Why There’s Nothing to be Afraid OfInhaled minimal sedation is administered through breathing. With this sedation you respond normally to communication. This is a combination of nitrous oxide, which is more commonly known as “laughing gas,” and oxygen that is breathed through a masked placed over your nose. The Dental Organization for Conscious Sedation (DOCS) recommends this sedative since it works quickly and does not produce any lingering side effects. You’re even permitted to drive after the procedure.

2. Oral minimal – moderate sedation

Oral sedation ranges in dosage, from minimal to moderate, and is administered orally to the patient. They makes the person drowsy, but the person is still responsive. Depending on level of sedation, your response to communication ranges from normal (mild sedation – one drug) to only when prodded (moderate sedation – multiple drugs). Larger doses or more than one drug used will typically put you to moderate sedation, but still you can easily be woken up with a shake to the body. Minimal oral sedatives are the most common sedatives used for dental sedation. Oral sedatives often come in pills or liquids, usually a Halcion or a drug related to Valium, and is taken an hour or more before going through the procedure.

3. IV moderate – deep sedation

IV moderate to deep sedation are administered though an IV injected through your vein. This makes the drug work quickly so there’s no wait time for the sedative effect. The dentist can easily adjust the level of sedation by controlling the IV flow. This is often done in more complicated operations and you are responsive to prodding (moderate sedation – single drug) to completely sedated and not responsive (deep sedation – multiple drugs) through the procedure.

4. Deep sedation and General Anesthesia.

Deep sedation and General anesthesia are what people often think of when talking about sedation. You get a medication(s) that will make you totally unconscious while the dentist performs the procedure. Under general anesthesia, you simply can’t be woken up. The effects need to wear off with time or they give you something that reverses the effect sooner.


Understanding Dental Sedation: Why There’s Nothing to be Afraid OfTalk to your dentist about their qualification for sedation since certification is required for each type of sedation and/or sedation drug. Then, talk about the type of sedation and about the type of sedative drugs that can be used for your procedure. If you don’t feel comfortable with being conscious, ask about the alternatives from the RCDSO. You have the right to choose the type of sedation and sedative drug, from those that are available to you, for a more comfortable dentist visit.

Finally, choose a dental office in London Ontario that is reliable and has had years of experience in different dental procedures and sedative use. Talk to the staff member and the dentist about the services they offer, what to expect, and the cost of the procedure before scheduling it.

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