Some Context: What’s Sedation Dentistry?
If you don’t already know, sedation dentistry is a set of methods that relax you for dental work. It relies on medications to treat pre-existing dental anxiety.
Depending on your needs, dental sedation can use various possible sedatives. Therefore, you might take one or several drugs on the day of your appointment.
How Does it Feel?
How dental sedation feels will depend on the type you get. After all, different sedatives tend to produce varying effects. Patients can also have unique reactions to medications. Still, here’s what you can generally expect from the three kinds of sedation.
Nitrous Oxide Sedation
Also known as “laughing gas,” nitrous oxide is a mild dental sedative. Dentists use it to help patients with light treatment-related anxiety.
In line with its nickname, nitrous oxide causes some giddiness and euphoria. It can even give you a case of “the giggles.” Despite these reactions, though, the gas will leave you conscious and alert. As a result, you’ll feel calm yet self-aware while it’s applied during treatment.
Once you stop breathing it, nitrous oxide quickly fades from your system. That means its effects will wear off after a few minutes of breathing normal air.
Oral Conscious Sedation
Compared to nitrous oxide sedation, oral conscious sedation is more intense. It uses an oral medication (taken before treatment) to treat moderate cases of anxiety.
With oral conscious sedation, you’ll experience a relatively deep calm. Some patients describe themselves as feeling “Zen” or at peace. Regardless, you’ll still be conscious and aware of your surroundings. That way, you can respond to dentist instructions as needed.
After treatment, this sedation type leaves you groggy for the rest of your day. You’ll need to wait a few hours for its effects to wear off.
IV sedation is the most potent form of sedation dentistry. As such, it’s only employed when patients suffer from extreme dental anxiety or agitation.
IV sedation will relax you even more than oral or nitrous oxide sedation. In particular, you’ll feel a profound calm and may struggle to stay awake. You should, however, remain conscious. The feelings of safety from oral sedation will just be amplified.
When you get IV sedation, you’ll feel groggy for 24 hours after the initial treatment. Past that point, you should be fine.
How Do You Know If You Qualify?
So long as you’re healthy, most adults can qualify for each type of dental sedation. The requirements for them aren’t overly strict. All that said, the best sedation candidates tend to have one (or more) of the following:
Mild-to-intense dental anxiety or phobia
An overly-active gag reflex
Difficulty with sitting still
Trauma from previous dental experiences
Ultimately, you should feel fine while under dental sedation. So, talk to your dental provider about getting it for your next procedure.