child receiving nitrous oxide sedation at the dentist

Is Sedation Dentistry Safe?

Team Sedation Dentistry

Whether you have dental anxiety or you’re simply nervous about needing extensive dental work, sedation dentistry can help you feel more relaxed during your appointment. If you’re considering dental sedation, you likely have a number of concerns about its safety, effectiveness, and what to expect. Below, we answer some of the most common questions patients have about sedation dentistry.

Is dental sedation safe?

Yes, dental sedation is very safe when it’s performed following American Dental Association guidelines. Dr. Golia is a hospital-trained dentist who is well-versed in using all levels of dental sedation for his patients. Nitrous oxide and conscious oral sedation are both very mild forms of sedation with few risks or side effects, as you remain awake and aware of your surroundings. While there are more potential risks with IV sedation, these are mitigated by following strict safety protocols.

Is sedation safer than general anesthesia?

Yes, sedation is much safer than general anesthesia. Patients who are under general anesthesia for a procedure are unconscious and require monitoring and respiratory support from an anesthesiology team. With sedation dentistry, you are conscious (although you may feel as if you are sleeping with IV sedation) and managing your own airway, which dramatically reduces the risk involved.

Dentists rarely use general anesthesia for their procedures; if it is needed, it is usually when extensive dental work is required and a patient has special needs. When general anesthesia is used, it is administered by an anesthesiology team in a hospital setting.

How long does dental sedation last?

Nitrous oxide is inhaled through a small mask placed over the nose and the effects last only a few minutes after the mask is removed. IV sedation, too, wears off fairly quickly after the IV is removed, but it will leave you feeling groggy longer than nitrous oxide, so you will need to have someone drive you home. The effects of conscious oral sedation can linger for several hours after your appointment, depending on the sedative you were given.

How safe is oral sedation?

Oral sedation is a safe option for most patients. Dr. Golia will review your medical history, allergies, and current medications to determine if you're a candidate for this type of sedation.

Will I feel any pain with dental sedation?

Dental sedation allows you to feel calm and relaxed during your procedure, but it doesn’t prevent you from feeling pain. We use local anesthesia to numb your mouth and ensure that you are free of both anxiety and pain during your appointment.

How will I feel after dental sedation?

While the effects of nitrous oxide wear off fast, conscious oral sedation and IV sedation might make you tired and lightheaded. Many patients report feeling “out of it” after either of these forms of sedation. Conscious oral sedation produces mild side effects in some patients, including nausea, headaches, and dizziness.

Learn More About Sedation Dentistry

If you have questions about sedation dentistry and you’d like to learn more, contact us today at 203-248-7400.