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Sedation Dentistry Little Rock

Sedation Dentistry in Little Rock


Sedation dentistry refers to the use of sedation during dental treatment. Sedation is most commonly used during extensive procedures, for patients with dental phobia or for patients who find it difficult to sit still. There are different types of sedation, including nitrous oxide (“laughing gas”), IV sedation, oral sedatives, and general anesthetic.

Sedation can range from the use of nitrous oxide to calm a patient to general anesthetics used to put patients to sleep. Patients with dental phobia, low pain tolerance, major dental treatment, physical handicaps or strong gag reflexes may require sedation. Procedures like fillings, crowns, bridges, root canals, extractions, cosmetic procedures, and periodontal treatments often require some sort of sedation. When you need a complex procedure that may require several hours to perform, sedation dentistry can make hours feel like minutes!

Sedation is endorsed by the American Dental Association (ADA) and is an effective way to make many patients comfortable during their dental visit. The ADA outlines a set of guidelines for providing sedation and the training required. The board of dentistry in each state determines the type of license required by your dentist.


Certain people, such as those who are obese or who have obstructive sleep apnea, should talk to their doctor before having sedation because they are more likely to develop complications from the Certain conditions may require clearance from a physician, such as: cardiac disease, hypertension, diabetes, and respiratory diseases.


Several factors impact the level of sedation a patient experiences, including the type of procedure you’re having and how your body responds to anesthesia.

The main levels of sedation are:

  • Minimal: This will help you relax, but you will likely be awake. You’ll understand questions your dentist is asking and be able to answer as well as follow directions
  • Moderate: You will feel drowsy or may even fall asleep during the procedure; you may or may not remember it
  • Deep: You won’t actually be unconscious, but you’ll sleep through the procedure and will most likely have little or no memory of it


Sedation is a commonly used practice by trained dentists; however, there is always a risk in getting anesthesia. Your dentist will go over the pre-and post-sedation process with you.


  • Prior to the procedure, your dentist will go over your medical history and any current medications you’re taking to determine if you are an appropriate candidate for sedation
  • The sedative dosage should be appropriate for your age and health and within the FDA’s recommendation
  • Your dentist will carefully go over a form detailing the risks of the procedure with you; be sure to ask questions if you are unclear about something

During Sedation

  • Your dentist will monitor your vital signs during the procedure, following the ADA’s guidelines
  • Your dentist will have oxygen (artificial ventilation) and drugs that reverse the effects of sedation on hand in case you need them


  • Someone else will need to drive you home so you can relax and recover from the effects


In addition to whichever sedation type you receive, you’ll also typically need a local anesthetic, which is numbing medication used at the site in the mouth where the dentist is working. This will help to relieve pain if the procedure causes any discomfort.


Nitrous oxide, more commonly known as “laughing gas,” is often used as a conscious sedative during a dental visit. The gas is administered with a mixture of oxygen and has a calming effect that helps phobic or anxious patients relax during their dental treatment. Because it is a mild sedative, patients are still conscious and can talk to their dentist during their visit. After treatment, the nitrous is turned off and oxygen is administered for 5-10 minutes to help flush any remaining gas. The effects wear off almost immediately. Nitrous oxide rarely has side effects, although some patients may experience minor nausea and constipation. Your doctor will provide you with pre-and post-sedation instructions.


Intravaneous (IV) sedation is a common method of anti-anxiety when having dental procedures performed. This technique is when the sedative is injected directly into a vein, this allows the dentist to continually adjust the level of sedation and it goes to work more quickly (usually only a few minutes or less). The IV method usually provides a deeper sedation, meaning you will still be awake, just less aware of the procedure. Because this type of sedation requires recovery time after the procedure, you will need someone to drive you home and wait with you until the effects wear off. Some side effects may include drowsiness, sluggishness, loss of memory of what happened during the procedure (amnesia), slow reflexes, low blood pressure, headache, and upset stomach.


Enteral sedation, or oral sedation, comes in the form of a pill or liquid that you take orally. Like local anesthetics, oftentimes it is used in combination with nitrous oxide. Oral sedatives take about 30 to 60 minutes to kick in. The level of sedation ranges from minimal to moderate, depending on the dosage. With minimal doses, you will be fully awake but will feel drowsy. To produce a more pronounced sedative effect, higher doses can be administered and you will still remain fully awake, but it is common for patients to feel so groggy that they fall asleep during the procedure.


With general anesthesia, you will get medications that will make you fall deeply asleep for the entire procedure. It is practiced using drugs that are directly injected into a vein, along with the possible inhalation of a gaseous anesthetic. The medications will be taken about an hour before the procedure. Under general anesthesia, you cannot easily be awakened until the effects of the anesthesia wear off or are reversed with medication. You will need someone to drive you home after the appointment and wait with you until the effects wear off.


Do not forgo the smile you desire because of your dental phobias. Sedation dentistry can be a great option to ease your nerves. Still have questions? Check out our FAQ page for more information! If you think you might want to try sedation dentistry, then give us a call or go to our contact page!