Is sedation dentistry right for me?

Dental anxiety is no laughing matter. Whether you are anxious about a dental visit because you need extensive work or you are worried about overall pain or discomfort, dental fears can often be so debilitating that they cause patients to put off needed procedures completely. But did you know that there are several types of dental sedation and dental techniques available that provide a more relaxed and comfortable dental experience?

It is important to remember that dental sedation is not pain management.  Dental sedation uses a variety of tools to relax the patient and in some cases will cause you not to remember a procedure at all.   The type of dental sedation that’s right for you will be determined by the oral care treatments needed, your overall health and other factors.

Laughing Gas: Despite its silly name, laughing gas doesn’t make you goofy…but it can make a dreaded dental procedure more tolerable. Many are familiar with the dental sedation option of nitrous oxide, which is commonly called laughing gas.  Your dentist will fit you with a nosepiece that will allow you to continually breathe nitrous oxide during your dental procedure. The gas will relax you, but you will be awake and conscious while your dentist is working. The effects of laughing gas are not long lasting, and patients can safely drive immediately following use. Laughing gas can be used alone or in conjunction with oral sedation, depending on a patient’s needs.

Oral Sedation: Oral sedation involves a pill or series of pills that a patient takes at a prescribed time before a dental procedure.  Oral sedation may or may not be used in conjunction with laughing gas.  Oral sedation – sometimes called conscious sedation – uses medication to significantly relax you. In fact, you may not remember any of your dental procedure at all.  It is important to have someone available to drive you to and from the dentist if using this dental sedation method, but medication effects will wear off by the next day.

IV Sedation: When IV sedation is used for dental procedures, the most common type used is a “twilight” sedation via IV that completely relaxes you into a sleep-like state and in most cases allows for no memory of the procedure at all. However, with twilight sedation you are still conscious, which does allow for the dental care provider to wake you, if needed.  General anesthesia – where the patient is completely unconscious – can be used for more complicated or special procedures, but its use is somewhat rare in the dental industry.

Dental sedation is used by dental health providers to help patients relax and feel more equipped to handle dental work.  Dental sedation is not a pain management technique, but does help ease the stress often associated with dental procedures.  Dentists and other oral health care providers often pair oral sedation techniques with other pain management tools and medications to help minimize the discomfort of dental injections and other dental work.

Numbing agents or shots are utilized to ease pain and discomfort during dental procedures. For many, getting a shot in the gums is a frightening prospect, but the DentalVibe tool can to alleviate pain associated with dental injections. When used together, DentalVibe, dental sedation and other pain management tools can eliminate discomfort and dental anxiety, allowing you to address your oral health concerns more comfortably.

Ask your dentist about the sedation and pain management techniques that are right for you. To learn more about painless dental procedures, visit

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