Does Sedation Dentistry Put You to Sleep?

Toward the end of the 20th century, the trend in dentistry shifted toward a more patient-focused approach to treatment. As a result, dentists refined their chairside manner, dental offices began boasting ergonomic exam chairs and gourmet coffee, and more practices began offering a variety of dental sedation options. Sedation dentistry reaches out to people who are afraid of the dentist, those who have a sensitive gag reflex, and people with neurological or physical impairments, allowing them to receive much needed dental care. Today, we’re discussing the commonly held misconception that dental sedation puts you to sleep.

Understanding Conscious Sedation

Contrary to popular perception, sedation dentistry does not render you unconscious like general anesthesia does. Instead, the medications used induce varying levels of relaxation:

  • Nitrous oxide is a mild dental sedative and makes you feel giddy and at ease. It even has an analgesic effect which helps control discomfort.
  • Oral sedation refers to anti-anxiety medication taken in a pill form to produce a state of deep relaxation. Oral sedation can be combined with nitrous oxide to increase the patient’s sense of relaxation.
  • IV sedation also uses anti-anxiety medication to induce a profoundly relaxed state called a twilight sleep.  In this sleep-like state, you will feel fully removed from the procedure at hand, but still conscious enough to answer a direct question.

Throughout any given procedure using dental sedation, your dentist or a member of the assisting staff will closely monitor your vital signs (breathing, oxygen levels, pulse, etc.) to make sure that you stay safe.

While nitrous oxide wears off quickly once the inhalation mask has been removed, the effects of oral and IV sedation will continue to linger for a few hours after the procedure. A friend or family member will have to escort you home and you won’t be able to safely resume your normal activities until the next day.

About Shawn Hofkes, DDS

With advanced training in oral and maxillofacial surgery and certification in oral and IV sedation, Shawn Hofkes, DDS is qualified to provide comfortable, advanced dental care from our state-of-the-art dentist office in Cerritos, CA. To schedule your appointment or consultation with Dr. Hofkes, contact us today. We proudly serve patients of all ages from Cerritos, Lakewood, Long Beach, Buena Park, and all surrounding communities.