About Sendation Dentistry & Anesthesia

There’s no need to avoid going to the oral surgeon. With new sedation methods, you can overcome your fear of dental surgery. Sedation helps reduce dental anxiety and discomfort during surgical procedures by sedating patients to keep them calm, relaxed, or even asleep throughout the treatment. Sedation can be administered in many different forms, including oral medications, nitrous oxide gas, IV Conscious sedation or General Anesthesia.

The Benefits

One of the main benefits of sedation dentistry is that it allows patients to undergo more complex dental procedures with minimal discomfort or anxiety. For example, people who may be fearful of needles or dental instruments can receive sedation medications so they are more comfortable and less fearful during the procedure.

In addition to reducing patient discomfort, sedation also helps improve the overall success rate of dental surgeries. Because sedated patients are more relaxed and cooperative, surgeons can often complete procedures more quickly and with fewer complications.


Sedation dentistry is used to keep patients calm and relaxed during dental surgical procedures. It can be administered in the form of oral medication, nitrous oxide gas, or medication administered through an IV.

  • Oral sedation uses oral medication to sedate patients. The most common oral sedation medication we use is Valium. This medication is classified as a Benzodiazepine, which are drugs that act on the central nervous system (brain) to produce a relaxing and calming effect.
  • Nitrous oxide gas. A colorless, non-flammable gas that produces very mild sedative effects. During treatment, a small mask is placed over the patient’s nose, and they breathe in nitrous oxide while it’s mixed with oxygen. With this method, surgeons can control the level of very light sedation throughout the procedure. 
  • IV Conscious Sedation provides a moderately deep sedation. It is administered through a small IV catheter. This allows the oral surgeon to titrate and adjust the amount of sedative medication given to each individual patient, which reduces the risk of complications and adverse reactions. With IV conscious sedation, the patient can respond to verbal commands such as, ‘open your mouth’ or ‘turn your head’. 
  • General anesthesia is a deeper IV sedation often referred to as being “asleep.” A patient undergoing general anesthesia is unconscious and will not respond to verbal commands or questions. Patients under general anesthesia essentially go to sleep and wake up when the procedure is done.

IV Conscious Sedation vs. General Anesthesia

While many patients believe that IV Conscious sedation dentistry is the same as general anesthesia, there are several differences. Here’s an in-depth look at how intravenous conscious sedation and general anesthesia work.

What Does IV Conscious Sedation Feel Like?

Typically, IV conscious sedation will make a patient feel calm and relaxed, but they may still be able to respond to verbal commands or to questions asked by the oral surgeon. Some patients may not remember being sedated or recalling the events of the procedure even though they were conscious at the time. The medications administered may cause amnesia of all or part of the procedure. The patient may only recall having a “heavy” or “drowsy” feeling.

Benefits of IV Conscious Sedation

Intravenous conscious sedation provides a number of advantages and benefits for both patients and the surgeon.

Some of the benefits of IV sedation include:

  • Efficacy. It allows the oral surgeon to precisely control the amount of sedation a patient receives.
  • Safety. When administered by a trained and licensed professional, IV sedation carries a very low risk of complications.
  • Fast-acting. The sedative effects of IV sedation can be felt within a few minutes after the medication is administered.
  • Reduces gag reflex. Beneficial for patients who have a strong gag reflex or who are undergoing procedures that trigger their gag reflex.
  • Faster recovery. Patients who receive light IV sedation dentistry recover more quickly from the sedative effects than those who undergo general anesthesia.

Medical History. Some patients for medical reasons may not be a candidate for general anesthesia and light IV sedation may be the only sedative option.

General Anesthesia

General anesthesia is a type of deep sedation that renders patients unconscious and unable to feel pain during medical or surgical procedure. This method of sedation is administered through an IV in the office. General anesthesia is typically used for more complex, lengthy procedures or patients with dental anxiety. It’s also used for patients with a high tolerance to sedative medications.

  • General anesthesia is usually preferable for surgical procedures such as the extraction of impacted wisdom teeth or dental implants.
  • For extremely anxious patients who cannot be cooperative with IV conscious sedation, general anesthesia may be used for their comfort and safety.

Risks of General Anesthesia

As with any sedation method, general anesthesia does come with certain risks. Patients with pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, who smoke or have existing heart or respiratory problems or use recreational drugs may be more likely to have complications. Anesthesia complications can be more serious in elderly patients and patients with heart or lung problems.

Some of the additional risks are:

  • Rare allergic reaction to sedatives or anesthetics
  • Breathing problems or heart problems during sedation
  • Nausea and vomiting

Pediatric Sedation Dentistry

Many children and teens feel anxious or scared about visiting the oral surgeon. Different types of sedation can be used on children, depending on their age, weight, health history, and the procedure being performed.

Pediatric sedation dentistry can help kids who

  • Have a low threshold for pain
  • Have a sensory processing disorder
  • Have special needs
  • Uncooperative
  • Extremely anxious or scared about dental procedures

Methods of sedation used on children include: 

  1. Nitrous oxide, also known as “laughing gas.” The most common type of sedation used on children. It’s safe and effective and wears off quickly so that the child can go directly home after the procedure is done.
  2. Oral sedation is a pill taken before the appointment to help the child relax. 
  3. IV conscious sedation is administered through a small IV in the child’s arm for less complicated surgical procedures and the patient is cooperative. 
  4. General anesthesia renders the child unconscious during the procedure. Typically, this form of sedation is used for children with anxiety, fear or special needs that make the child incapable of being cooperative for the surgical procedure. 

Risks of Pediatric Sedation Dentistry

As with any type of sedation, there are some risks associated with pediatric sedation dentistry. Some potential side effects include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Slurred speech
  • Low blood pressure
  • Slow heart rate
  • Allergic reactions
  • Breathing problems
  • Nausea and vomiting

Experience The Difference

At AZ Max we believe in offering only the best sedation dentistry and quality care for our patients. Our team of highly trained and licensed professionals has years of experience in sedation dentistry and will work with you to ensure that you receive the best possible care. We can discuss your options for sedation at your consultation appointment to make your experience as comfortable and safe as possible. Our AZ Max surgeons are all certified to administer all forms of sedation including General Anesthesia.