What is Sedation Dentistry? Types and How to Prepare

Sedation dentistry is an effective form of treatment for patients with severe dental anxiety. It’s also necessary to ensure patients remain comfortable when performing dental surgery. Learn all about the types of dental sedation we use in our Kanata and Kemptville clinics, and how they keep our patients comfortable.

What is Sedation Dentistry?

Sedation dentistry is the practice of using medication to help patients relax while they are at a dental appointment receiving treatment. It is an especially effective practice for patients with severe anxiety or phobias about dental procedures, or for patients receiving a procedure which could cause more pain than a safe dosage of a local anesthetic can fully mitigate.

What are the Levels of Sedation?

There are three levels of sedation that a patient could receive for a procedure. However, before we administer any kind of sedation, our team reviews each patient’s medical history to ensure they are an appropriate candidate. Your dentist will then discuss your concerns with you prior to the appointment and determine the level of sedation that would work best for you. For the purpose of more time-consuming procedures, we may recommend a different sedation type than what you have had previously.

Minimal Sedation


During this form of sedation, the patient is awake but relaxed. This soothes the nerves and slightly dulls the senses, removing the possibility of discomfort that might otherwise be felt without sedation. Simpler procedures and routine treatments are often done in tandem with this level of sedation.

Moderate Sedation

In this case, the patient is awake but likely won’t remember much of the procedure. We understand that more invasive treatments can cause increased fear and anxiety, and we offer this type of sedation to patients who are particularly uncomfortable with the thought of visiting the dentist. We require patients who have had this level of sedation to have pre-arranged a ride home after their procedure, as it may take a few hours for the effects of the sedation to wear off.

Deep Sedation

Typically, this level of sedation is used in extreme cases. The patient is barely conscious and won’t remember the procedure at all. While we do not offer this type of sedation, we can make recommendations for clinics that do in the event our patients need additional support.

What are the Types of Sedation Used in Dentistry?

At Yazdani Family Dentistry, we use two main types of sedation to ease the concerns of our patients. However, there are three types available depending on your chosen dental clinic. Each is a proven method that helps patients relax, making the procedure easier for them and their dental team. 

Inhaled Sedation

During this type of sedation, the patient inhales a mixture of nitrous oxide, or “laughing gas,” and oxygen through a mask placed on the nose. The dentist controls the amount of gas the patient receives and it tends to wear off quickly. It is considered an effective version of minimal sedation and can be used for relatively routine treatments like teeth cleanings.

Oral Sedation

For this kind of sedation to work, the patient is given a pill to take orally about an hour before the procedure. Depending on the dosage given, the level of sedation can range from minimal to moderate. As the sedative takes effect, the patient will feel drowsy but will still be awake. In some cases, the sedative can make the patient drowsy enough to fall asleep. However, they can usually be woken up by a gentle shake. This type of sedation is most commonly associated with sedation dentistry.

IV Sedation

Intravenous sedation involves injecting the sedative medication directly into the patient’s veins. This allows the sedative to take effect more quickly than with oral or inhaled sedation.

Once injected into the vein, the sedative works almost immediately, placing the patient in a conscious yet very relaxed state. The dosage is then controlled by the dentist as needed, aiming for a moderate level of sedation. This is commonly used for more complex procedures, such as the surgical removal of teeth.

IV sedation is very effective for those who experience more intense levels of fear at the dentist. Since this form of sedation dentistry is a little more potent, it can take some time to recover from the groggy feeling afterwards, which is why it’s necessary to have someone escort the patient home.

What is Conscious Sedation Dentistry?

As the name implies, conscious sedation dentistry allows patients to be awake and aware of their procedure while in a desensitized state to ensure they are calm and content. It can be achieved either by nitrous gas or oral medication, which are both administered by the dentist. During any kind of procedure with this kind of dentistry, the patient will feel little to no pain and return to their normal consciousness relatively quickly.

How Much Does Sedation Dentistry Cost?

The cost of sedation dentistry varies. Since there are different levels of sedation and types that can be used, the dentist must take into account different factors when deciding what will work best for your needs. It is also worth noting that some insurance company policies do not cover sedation options as part of their plans. If you have price-related questions, please reach out to our clinic and our team would be happy to put together an estimate for you to review. We can also send the estimate to your insurer to verify whether you have sufficient coverage. 

How Can I Prepare for Sedation Dentistry?

Sedation dentistry requires little preparation before your scheduled appointment. However, depending on the type and level that your dental team recommends, you may be required to follow certain pre-procedural guidelines to ensure your safety. We will ask for a list of prescriptions prior to deciding on your sedation option. Once we have discussed the best method with you, we recommend keeping meals light a few hours before your treatment to reduce the possibility of nausea. Two hours prior to coming to the office, it is best if you only consume liquids. If you are using oral sedation, that needs to be taken an hour before your scheduled appointment. In addition, this type of sedation requires that you have a ride home while you recover from any effects of the medication.

If your child requires sedation dentistry, we suggest going through the process with them, eating light meals and consuming only liquids together so that they feel encouraged and supported before coming in for their procedure.

Who Can Benefit from Sedation Dentistry?

On top of being a great help for people who struggle with fear and anxiety about dental procedures, sedation dentistry can benefit patients with:

Can Everyone Get Sedation Dentistry?

Sedation dentistry is safe and suitable for a variety of patients that need a bit more peace of mind before sitting down in the dentist’s chair. Even children are eligible for this type of dentistry (we only use nitrous oxide on our younger patients) in cases of constant fidgeting or intense fears. We provide this support option so that no matter our patient’s dental care needs, they can be addressed. Before administering any kind of sedation, we carefully determine a specified dose (based on your age and weight) of medication that will work effectively and safely. 

Is Sedation Dentistry Dangerous?

There is always a risk involved with using an anesthetic medication. Patients can have an unexpected reaction to the medication, or an improper dosage could be administered. A dentist who is experienced in sedation dentistry will know what information to ask for when consulting with the patient. They will know how to control the dosage of the anesthetic, making these risks particularly low.

Patients at Higher Risk for Sedation Dentistry Complications

People who are obese or have obstructive sleep apnea are at greater risk of complications from sedation dentistry. These individuals need to consult with their doctor before undergoing any dental procedures with sedation. To ensure the safest environment for our patients, our dental suites are equipped to monitor your vital signs, and our dentists are able to perform reverse treatments for sedation medications as necessary. 

Before the procedure, your dentist will discuss your medical history with you to determine any concerns they may have. Our dental team may be able to suggest an alternative option that could work for you, should you be ineligible for sedation dentistry. 

Who Can Perform Sedation Dentistry?

Most dentists are able to administer minimal sedation in the form of nitrous oxide and oral medication. Many dentists these days have also received training to administer moderate oral sedation.

In order to be able to administer IV sedation, a dentist must become certified by the dental regulatory authority in their province. For Ontario, that is the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario. Dentists who receive this certification are usually oral and maxillofacial surgeons and dental anesthesiologists. These types of dentists are qualified to administer any type of sedation to both children and adults.

To learn more about sedation dentistry and if it might be right for you, please contact us.

Dr. Shahrooz Yazdani

Dr. Shahrooz Yazdani

Dr. Shahrooz Yazdani has helped to restore the smiles and self-confidence of countless clients since opening Yazdani Family Dentistry in 2001. As CEO and Director, he has amassed thousands of hours of comprehensive training and real-world experience in his decades-long tenure. Dr. Yazdani is deeply passionate about his work, family, and making the most of life itself.

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