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 Halifax dentists explain.
What Conscious Sedation Feels Like
Conscious sedation (also known as sleep dentistry) is a procedure where your dentist uses a sedative or a combination of sedatives to help relax a patient for their dental appointment. Local Halifax dentists will use gas, oral, or IV sedatives that reduce anxiety and pain sensitivity. The goal of these procedures is to provide a more successful and relaxed dental appointment for anxious patients.
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 often feel calm, relaxed, and somewhat groggy. Most patients report feeling decreased stress and anxiety related to their dental procedure. The extent to which one's feelings are impacted by sedation varies greatly depending on the type, quantity, and method of sedation that is 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 smell grapes or other types of fruit. You’ll feel relaxed, light, and maybe a bit tingly in your arms and legs. Some patients also experience a “euphoric feeling” and get giggly. It slows your reaction time and reduces your pain sensitivity as well.
Oral Sedation Dentistry
You can expect a deeper sense of relaxation and relief from oral sedation. You’ll most likely feel drowsy and may have difficulty speaking. Sedation dulls reflexes and coordination as well. Some patients experience feeling heavy. And a fuzzy memory or memory loss from the procedure is common. Patients also report that time passes faster under oral sedation.
IV sedation provides a deeper sense of sedation than oral or gas sedation. Patients can experience a very deep state of relaxation as well as difficulty staying awake. You’re still conscious (unlike general anesthesia). In short, the safe feelings found in oral sedation are common in IV sedation, but more amplified.