For anxious or overwhelmed patients, sedation is often a helpful tool to improve the dental care experience. It is natural that many have questions before undergoing sedation and want to know what it will feel like. Here, our Toronto dentists explain.
What Conscious Sedation Feels Like
Conscious sedation (also known as sleep dentistry) is a procedure in which your dentist uses a sedative or a combination of sedatives to help you relax before your dental appointment. Local Toronto dentists will use sedatives such as gas, oral, or IV to reduce anxiety and pain sensitivity. The goal of these procedures is to make anxious patients' dental appointments more successful and relaxing.
3 Different Types of Conscious Sedation
1) Minimal (Anxiolysis) Sedation: You’re conscious and able to respond to your dentist, but you also feel calm.
2) Moderate Sedation: You’re responsive but feel sleepy and may fade in and out of consciousness.
3) Deep Sedation: You’re asleep or mostly asleep. You can be woken, but it takes effort.
The Effects of Conscious Sedation
Patients undergoing dental sedation frequently report feeling calm, relaxed, and a little groggy. Most patients report less stress and anxiety as a result of their dental procedure. The extent to which sedation affects one's feelings varies greatly depending on the type, amount, and method of sedation used.
Patients communicate a range of feelings experienced during “sleep dentistry” depending on the type of sedative used during their procedure. Here’s an overview of each to help you get an idea of what to expect from each form of dental sedation:
Nitrous Oxide Sedation
The gas can be scented, so you may notice the aroma of grapes or other fruits. You'll feel light, relaxed, and possibly tingly in your arms and legs. Some patients also get a "euphoric feeling" and become giddy. It slows your reaction time and decreases your pain sensitivity.
Oral Sedation Dentistry
Oral sedation will provide you with a greater sense of relaxation and relief. You'll probably feel drowsy and have difficulty speaking. Sedation also dulls reflexes and coordination. Some patients report feeling heavy. A fuzzy memory or memory loss as a result of the procedure is common. Patients also report that time seems to fly by while under oral sedation.
IV sedation produces a more profound level of sedation than oral or gas sedation. Patients may experience extreme relaxation as well as difficulty staying awake. You're still awake (unlike general anesthesia). In short, the safe feelings experienced during oral sedation are amplified in IV sedation.