If you’re planning on having sedation for an upcoming dental procedure, you’re likely to have questions about its safety, effectiveness, and what you can expect. Below, we’ll answer some of the most common questions patients have about sedation dentistry to help you know what to expect before your appointment.
Is sedation dentistry safe?
Yes, sedation dentistry is very safe. If you’ve heard or read about serious risks involved in sedation dentistry, these stories are about IV sedation, which is a form of sedation we don’t offer. (IV sedation is most commonly found in oral surgery practices and it is administered under strict safety guidelines; it, too, is safe when used properly, but there is more risk involved.)
We use nitrous oxide and conscious oral sedation at Barkoff Dental, both of which are safe, mild forms of sedation with very few risks or side effects. You are fully awake with these forms of sedation and breathing on your own.
Is sedation safer than general anesthesia?
Absolutely. During general anesthesia, patients are unconscious and need close monitoring and breathing support. With dental sedation, you are conscious, aware of your surroundings, and able to manage your own airway. Dental sedation simply relaxes you, while general anesthesia means you’ll sleep through your procedure and have no recollection of it when you wake up. It’s very rare for dentists to provide treatment with general anesthesia—when general anesthesia is needed, it’s administered in a hospital setting by an anesthesiology team.
How long does dental sedation last?
Nitrous oxide is inhaled through a small mask that is worn on the nose; once it is removed, its effects wear off within minutes. Conscious oral sedation can last for up to a few hours after your procedure, depending on the sedative you were prescribed and your sensitivity to it.
How safe is oral sedation?
Oral sedation is very safe. We’ll go over your medical history, allergies, and current medications to ensure that you’re a candidate for conscious oral sedation. The dosage prescribed is sufficient to relax you, but not enough for there to be any substantial risk.
Are you awake during sedation?
Yes, with nitrous oxide and conscious oral sedation, you will be awake during your procedure. The fact that you remain conscious is one of the reasons these forms of sedation are safer than alternatives like IV sedation and general anesthesia.
Will I feel any pain with dental sedation?
Dental sedation helps you relax during your treatment, but it doesn’t eliminate pain. For this, we use local anesthesia. The combination of local anesthesia and sedation will ensure that your procedure is painless and trauma-free.
How will I feel after dental sedation?
While the effects of nitrous oxide wear off quickly, with conscious oral sedation, you may feel drowsy and lightheaded. Most patients describe oral sedation as feeling “out of it.” Rarer side effects include nausea, headaches, and dizziness.