Are You Completely Asleep During Sedation Dentistry?

Are You Completely Asleep During Sedation Dentistry?
Author: Espire Dental Posted: December 6th, 2023 Category:

Even if you are not entirely asleep during sedation dentistry, you won’t feel any pain. 

Dentists have been using some type of anesthesia since the 1840s when nitrous oxide was first administered to patients. Since then, dental anesthesiology has advanced to the point where, today, your dentist has several ways to make your procedure nearly pain-free. Sedation dentistry is one of those methods.

Under sedation, you are semi-conscious. While you may not be fully asleep, you are nevertheless insensitive to pain and may not necessarily remember what happens during the procedure. Sedation dentistry works best for people with extreme dental anxiety or who are undergoing complex, lengthy dental work. Your dentist will discuss what type of sedation you’ll receive, but here’s a brief look at what to expect before, during, and after you receive the anesthesia.

Types of sedation dentistry

Many fear going to the dentist because they think it will be painful. However, avoiding dental treatment allows tooth decay and gum disease to flourish, potentially leading to tooth loss and other serious oral issues. Fortunately, with sedation dentistry, patients feel relaxed and comfortable. It also gives the dentist time to complete the procedure faster and in fewer appointments.

Depending on your level of anxiety or the complicity of the procedure, you’ll be given one of three types of sedation:

Nitrous oxide: Also known as “laughing gas,” nitrous oxide is inhaled through a mask or nosepiece. You’ll feel the calming effect within minutes. Once the procedure is over, you’ll receive oxygen to flush out the nitrous oxide. Because nitrous oxide exits your body quickly, you can drive yourself home and will feel no after-effects.

Oral conscious sedation. Typically given in pill form and taken an hour before the procedure, oral conscious sedation causes grogginess and may even put you to sleep. However, you may be able to communicate with your dentist. After the procedure, your dentist will nudge you awake. You will need someone to drive you home because the sedation dulls your motor skills.

Intravenous (IV) sedation. Intravenous sedation goes directly into your bloodstream via an IV line and will put you to sleep. Your dentist will monitor your heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen levels during the procedure. IV sedation is typically reserved for those with extreme dental anxiety or those undergoing a lengthy process, such as dental capping.

In some cases, your dentist will recommend general anesthesia to make you fully unconscious. Unless your dentist has special training, an anesthesiologist administers general anesthesia.

What happens before, during, and after sedation dentistry

Before administering the sedation, your dentist will review your health history and any medications you take. You may be asked not to eat or drink for at least six hours before the appointment. Stick to your routine medication schedule unless you take blood thinners. You may need to skip those for a few days before the procedure.

As noted previously, the sedation medications will keep you comfortable or possibly unconscious as your dentist performs the procedure. You should feel no pain and not remember much of what happened.

If you’ve been given nitrous oxide, you can return to your normal activities immediately. But oral and IV sedation require a bit longer recovery. You should rest and not drive for 24 hours. You may want to eat a light diet of smoothies and clear liquids until the effects of the anesthesia wear off. 

Complications from sedation dentistry are extremely rare. But if you experience any nausea, vomiting, lingering drowsiness, or dry mouth after the procedure, contact your dentist. Otherwise, you should recover quickly and fully from the sedation you were given.

We’re specialists in sedation dentistry.

Schedule an appointment at Espire’s Casper, Wyoming, location today! Our highly trained dentists are experts in sedation dentistry and can assure your comfort during your visit. Don’t live near our Casper, Wyoming, office? Find one of our other locations near you.

Casper, Wyoming
1530 Centennial Ct. 
Suite A 
Casper, WY 82609