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  • No pain has been experienced
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Fear of the Dentists?

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Sedation dentistry has been used for many years to help with the phobia and anxiety people experience when they visit their dentist. Simply put, sedation dentistry uses medication to help patients relax during most dental procedures. Sedation dentistry does not necessary put you to sleep and during most procedures, you will actually be awake, unless you are under general anesthesia. There are a few levels of sedation used commonly in dental practices.
These include:

Conscious Sedation

A type of sedation in which you are awake but relaxed.

Moderate Sedation

Your words may slur and you may not remember most of the procedure.

Deep Sedation

You are on the edge of consciousness.

General Anesthesia

A type of sedation in which you are awake but relaxed.

Many people wonder how the sedation is administered and it varies both on the type of sedation and on your dentist. It can be inhaled sedation medication which is commonly known as “laughing gas”, and in this type of sedation you would breathe nitrous oxide. This is considered minimal sedation as you can probably even drive after the procedure.

The second type of dental sedation is via oral sedation. It varies from minimal to moderate and is taken by the mouth in the form of a pill.

The third type of sedation would be intravenous (IV) moderate sedation and you would receive the sedation drug through a vein.

The final type of sedation used in dentistry is for deep sedation and general anesthesia. You will be administered medication that will render you unconscious during the procedure.

For all types of sedation, you will also be administered a local anesthetic which is a numbing medication and the dentist will apply it at the site of the mouth where the work is being performed. This is done to relieve the pain if the procedure were to cause you any discomfort.

Conscious Sedation for Surgical Procedures

During a medical or dental procedure, doctors or dentists may give you a combination of sedatives and anesthetics to help you relax and to block pain respectively. This combination is called conscious sedation. During conscious sedation, you will be awake but will be unable to speak. Conscious sedation promotes a quick recovery; you will be able to do your everyday activities very soon after your procedure.

How does conscious sedation work?

A doctor, dentist, or nurse will administer conscious sedation either in a hospital or outpatient clinic. Conscious sedation is typically not given by an anesthesiologist. The medicine wears off quickly; doctors only use it for short and easy procedures.

You will either receive the medicine through a shot into a muscle or through an intravenous line in a vein (IV). Soon after receiving the medicine, you will start to feel drowsy and relaxed. If you have to swallow the medicine, you will feel the effects after 30 minutes to an hour.

After receiving the medicine, your breathing will slow down, and your blood pressure will decrease. Someone will check your vitals regularly during the procedure to check whether you are still OK. This person will be by your side throughout the procedure. It will not be necessary for you to need help with your breathing, but just to be on the safe side, your doctor might give you extra oxygen through a mask or an IV into a vein.

It is possible that you will fall asleep, but you will quickly wake up to respond if needed. After conscious sedation, you may feel a little lethargic and will probably not remember anything about your procedure.

Why use conscious sedation?

Doctors and dentists use conscious sedation because it is safe and effective for minor surgeries or to diagnose a condition. Conscious sedation is commonly used for

  • Breast biopsy
  • Dental prosthetic or reconstructive surgery
  • Minor bone fracture repair
  • Minor foot surgery
  • Minor skin surgery
  • Plastic or reconstructive surgery
  • Procedures to diagnose and treat some stomach (upper endoscopy), colon (colonoscopy), lung (bronchoscopy), and bladder (cystoscopy) conditions


Conscious sedation is safe in most circumstances. If you receive too much medicine, there will be problems with your breathing. That is why a health care provider will monitor you throughout the whole procedure. There are special equipment available to assist your breathing if necessary. Only certain qualified health care providers and administer conscious sedation.

Before the Procedure

It’s important to tell the health care provider if you are or could be pregnant. You also have to tell your health care provider if you are taking any drugs, supplements, or herbs that you have bought with or without a prescription.

After the Procedure

After the procedure, you will feel drowsy, and you may have a headache or feel a little nauseated. A health care professional will clip your finger with a pulse oximeter to check your oxygen levels. Someone will also take your blood pressure every 15 minutes. You should be able to go home within an hour or two.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Conscious sedation is overall safe and a viable option for procedures or diagnostic tests.

Alternative Names

Anesthesia – conscious


There are always risks associated with getting any type of anesthesia. If administered by experienced dentists, it is usually very safe but it is still important to talk to your doctor if you are obese or have obstructive sleep apnea, as you would be more likely to develop complications from anesthesia.

To learn more about Sedation Dentistry and the methods used at Smiles New York, please contact our offices at 212-929-9191 and speak with one of our experienced dentists or exceptional staff members. We look forward to helping you get the extravagant smile you want without the pain you fear.

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With our 75 years of combined experience, we aim to only provide exceptional services for our clients for extravagant smiles.