West 85th Dental
8561 8A Ave SW Calgary AB T3H 0V5 (403) 246-5545

(587) 355-4332

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What Is Sedation Dentistry & What Is It Used For?

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Our smiles are a reflection of ourselves, making dental health crucial not only for our appearance but also for our overall physical and mental well-being. Yet, the thought of visiting the dentist can evoke anxiety in many individuals. To address this, West 85th Dental offers an option known as sedation dentistry.

Sedation dentistry involves the use of sedatives to create a more relaxed state or even light sleep for patients during dental procedures. Sedation allows for a smoother and quicker dental procedure, as dentists can perform their work more efficiently with the patient in a relaxed state. 

This efficiency can reduce the number of necessary visits. Coupled with a significantly more comfortable patient experience, these benefits make sedation dentistry an appealing choice for many. It all starts with booking your first dental exam with us.

What Is Sedation Dentistry? 

Sedation dentistry uses sedative drugs to minimize patient anxiety, enabling individuals who experience significant nervousness to feel calm during dental treatments that might otherwise cause them considerable distress.

This approach is particularly beneficial for those with dental phobias or severe anxiety, as it employs medications that allow patients to relax sufficiently to receive necessary dental care. Certain types of sedation can even make patients forget the specifics, including the smells, associated with the procedure.

It’s important, regardless of the sedation method chosen, to have a responsible caregiver accompany you. The nature of the sedation may require taking it the evening before your treatment, necessitating someone else to drive you to your dental appointment.

A dental hygienist places a mask over a patient's face as a part of sedation dentistry

How Does Sedation Dentistry Work?

There are several methods of delivering sedation in dentistry, each catering to different levels of patient anxiety and procedural requirements. These methods include:

Nitrous Oxide

Nitrous oxide, commonly known as “laughing gas,” is a gentle sedative administered via a mask that covers the nose. It is provided continuously during the procedure to enhance your mood and create a feeling of comfort, thereby mitigating pain and easing anxiety.

The side effects of nitrous oxide are minimal, with some individuals possibly feeling tingling or numbness. Its safety record is outstanding, having been utilized in dentistry for many years with great success.


Anxiolysis refers to a light oral sedative that helps you stay calm yet conscious, maintaining the capability to respond to questions and adhere to directions throughout your dental procedure. It can be used independently or in conjunction with nitrous oxide for enhanced relaxation.

Oral Conscious Sedation 

Oral conscious sedation represents a moderate level of sedation within the realm of sedation dentistry. The patient consumes the prescribed sedative before their visit, allowing adequate time for the sedative to become effective before the start of their treatment.

Rather than inducing sleep, oral conscious sedation blunts sensory perceptions. Consequently, patients stay awake throughout their treatment, yet they often have no recollection of any discomfort, odours, sounds, or other specifics related to their dental procedure.

Is Sedation Dentistry Safe?

Although dental sedation may lead to side effects in certain individuals due to factors such as existing medical conditions, medication use, age, and overall health, it is generally a safe and dependable method suitable for a wide range of patients, from children to older adults. 

Sharing your complete medical history with your dentist before your appointment is very important, as is adhering to the pre-and post-care guidelines given by your dentist, particularly for individuals taking prescription drugs or those with pre-existing health issues.

What Side Effects Can Sedation Dentistry Have?

Like any medical or dental procedure, there is a possibility of experiencing side effects. In the case of sedation dentistry, these side effects are usually mild and often dissipate within a few hours following the treatment. Nevertheless, it’s wise to be informed about potential outcomes. 

Possible side effects can include headaches, reduced blood pressure, feelings of nausea, slurred speech, drowsiness, and confusion, as well as short-term memory loss.

Can You Feel Pain During Sedation Dentistry?

Given the significant number of Canadians who have dental anxiety, making sure that procedures are comfortable is essential. Patients usually experience a sense of calm and drowsiness, even with minimal sedation. 

Thanks to the use of pain relief and local anesthesia in conjunction with sedation dentistry, patients generally do not experience discomfort during the procedure. Upon waking, patients can expect to feel relaxed.

Reasons for Sedation Dentistry 

The application of sedation dentistry varies according to the specific requirements of the patient. It can be used for a wide range of dental services, from routine exams and cleanings to more complex and potentially uncomfortable treatments. 

Sedation dentistry is primarily used for more lengthy or invasive procedures rather than straightforward ones.

Additionally, sedation dentistry may be a suitable option for people who:

  • Need substantial dental work done
  • Possess a low tolerance for pain
  • Suffer from highly sensitive teeth
  • Experience a pronounced gag reflex
  • Find it difficult to remain still during dental procedures

However, individuals who are overweight or have obstructive sleep apnea should consult both their dentist and primary care physician before opting for sedation dentistry, due to an increased risk of complications associated with sedation.

Sedation dentistry can also offer advantages for children who have severe dental anxiety or phobia. It is important, though, for parents to discuss this option with the child’s dentist and pediatrician to make an informed decision.

Is Sedation Dentistry Right for You?

If you’re wondering whether sedation dentistry could be suitable for you, consider if dental anxiety is preventing you from attending crucial dental appointments. Sedation dentistry could alleviate discomfort during more extended procedures and assist in fostering a positive rapport with your dentist.

For further information on sedation dentistry options, consider scheduling a consultation with us at West 85th Dental. We are happy to provide you with a relaxed and anxiety-free dental experience.


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