Benefits and Risks of Sedation Dentistry

Benefits and Risks of Sedation Dentistry By Danny O'Keefe D.D.S. on June 12, 2021

Despite the best efforts of your dentist, dental visits are still a source of fear and anxiety for some patients. Sedation dentistry provides these patients with a sense of calmness and relaxation during oral health treatments.

At our dental office in Flowood, MS, Dr. Danny O’Keefe and Dr. Jan O’Keefe Belote offer three types of sedation: nitrous oxide, oral conscious sedation, and intravenous (IV) sedation. These different types of sedatives range in potency. As with all medical treatments, there are benefits and risks associated with sedation dentistry. Our dentists will discuss the pros and cons of each option with you during your consultation at our Flowood office.

Nitrous Oxide

Nitrous oxide, commonly called “laughing gas,” is inhaled through a facemask. Patients tend to feel the effects of nitrous oxide within two minutes. It helps patients feel more relaxed and even giddy during their dental procedure.

Benefits of Nitrous Oxide

Nitrous oxide is the weakest form of sedation, and it is safe for most patients including children. Patients who receive nitrous oxide can still hear, understand, and respond to the dentist’s instructions, which can make it easier for the dentist to perform treatment.

After the procedure, dentists administer five minutes of pure oxygen to eliminate any traces of nitrous oxide from the system. Patients can safely drive to and from the dental office and resume activity after the laughing gas is removed. 

Risks of Nitrous Oxide

Because nitrous oxide is a mild form of sedation, it might not be the best option for patients with severe dental anxiety who rather not remember their visit to the dentist at all. 

While it is rare, some patients also experience negative side effects after receiving nitrous oxide. These include dizziness, nausea, headaches, and excessive sweating. Allergic reactions are also rare, but possible.

Oral Conscious Sedation

Oral conscious sedation is administered in the form of a prescription pill and is available in varying strengths.

Benefits of Oral Sedation

Because oral sedation is administered orally, it is a great option for patients who are afraid of needles. It is also highly effective for most patients, helping even the most anxious patients slip into a relaxed, groggy state during their procedures.

Risks of Oral Sedation

Oral sedation has a slower onset than other types of sedation, and patients will need to follow their dentist’s instructions to make sure the medication is effective. After taking oral sedation, patients often wake up feeling sluggish or incoherent, so they must arrange a ride to and from the appointment. As with any medication, oral sedatives may trigger side effects like dry mouth, headaches, and nausea.

Intravenous (IV) Sedation

Intravenous, or IV, sedation is administered directly into the bloodstream through a small needle in the forearm. It quickly creates a relaxed state and can even be used to help patients slip into unconsciousness.

Benefits of IV Sedation

Because of its rapid onset and effectiveness, dentists often recommend IV sedation to patients with severe anxiety and patients undergoing complex procedures, such as wisdom teeth extraction or dental implants. Patients who receive mild IV sedation are awake enough to respond to their dentist’s requests but often do not recall the events after the procedure. Meanwhile, patients who receive deep IV sedation are completely asleep during the procedure.

Risks of IV Sedation

IV sedation is the deepest form of dental sedation, so it can be intimidating for patients who have never received sedation before. Side effects include headaches, nausea, and dry mouth.

When receiving IV sedation, patients need to arrange a ride to and from the dental office. It’s also recommended that you have someone stay with you for the rest of the day while you recover. 

Talk to Us about Sedation Dentistry

Sedation dentistry is safe and effective for patients who suffer from dental fear and anxiety. While each type of sedation has impressive benefits, each type also carries its own risks.

Call (601) 936-2526 or message us online to schedule an appointment with our dentists to discuss sedation dentistry.