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Dental Sedation: What to Expect


Smiling girl patient waiting for her check-up

Sedation medication is often administered to patients who feel anxious about their dental procedure, have tooth sensitivity, have a low pain threshold or need a lot of dental work done.

Regardless of the reason, your first time getting sedated at a dental office can be intimidating. You might feel better if you know what to expect and how to prepare for sedation in the dental office.

What Is Sedation Dentistry?

There are several different types of dental sedation medications, ranging from gases that you can inhale to medication that you can take before your procedure. Sedation can help you relax and make the procedure more comfortable.

The three main types of sedation medications are:

  1. Nitrous oxide: Nitrous oxide, which is more commonly referred to as “laughing gas,” is delivered through a nose apparatus. Breathing in the gas relaxes you and allows you to remain conscious while your dental procedure takes place.
  2. Oral/conscious sedation: With oral/conscious sedation, you can expect to take a prescribed sedative prior to your procedure. Just like with laughing gas, you’ll be conscious, but since this is a stronger sedative, you most likely won’t remember anything from the procedure.
  3. IV sedation: There are two main types of IV sedation — “twilight” and general anesthesia. With twilight, you’ll be conscious but not aware of what’s going on. General anesthesia, or sleep dentistry, will make you unconscious during the entire procedure.

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What to Expect Before Your Procedure

If you’ll be receiving sedation during your dental procedure — especially if it’s general anesthesia — you’ll probably have a pre-treatment consultation with your dental team. During this appointment, your dentist or oral surgeon will ask important questions about your:

  • Health, including previous and existing medical conditions.
  • Dental history.
  • Medications you are taking and past medication reactions.

They will inform you of how to prepare for your appointment. If your procedure will involve IV sedation, your dentist will most likely have you fast and avoid alcohol and tobacco for several hours before your appointment. With lighter sedation, such as laughing gas, you won’t have as many requirements.

What to Expect After Your Procedure

Depending on which type of sedation medication you receive, you might recover within just a few minutes and be awake enough to drive home. In other cases, you might be too drowsy and need someone else to drive you.

You might be worn out and possibly have a few side effects ranging from dry mouth to nausea, especially if you have IV sedation. Take it easy, rest and be sure to drink lots of fluids after the procedure. Avoid operating heavy machinery or making important decisions until you are fully awake and recovered.

Dental Choice Is Your Source of Comprehensive, Compassionate Sedation Dentistry in Calgary and Edmonton

Whether you experience dental anxiety for your regular cleanings or need root canal therapy, we offer sedation services at Dental Choice to help make your experience more comfortable.

To schedule your dental appointment at our Calgary or Edmonton office, contact us today.
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