Sedation Dentistry

There’s no need to avoid going to the dentist. With new sedation methods available, you can overcome your fear of any dental procedure. Sedation dentistry and anesthesia help reduce dental anxiety and discomfort during dental procedures by sedating patients to keep them calm, relaxed, or asleep throughout the treatment. This type of sedation can be administered in many forms, including oral medication, nitrous oxide gas, or IV.

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 fearful of needles or dental tools can receive sedation medication before their appointment and experience little to no pain during the procedure. Phobias can keep people from seeking dental care, leading to more serious oral health issues, and sedation dentistry can help minimize that.

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


Sedation dentistry keeps patients calm and relaxed during dental procedures. Minimal sedation can be administered in the form of oral sedatives (pills), nitrous oxide gas for those with a fear of needles, or deeper sedation through IV.

  • Oral sedation (also known as conscious sedation) uses oral medication to sedate patients. The most common oral sedation medication is triazolam, also known as Halcion. Zaleplon and lorazepam are also used. This medication is classified as a Benzodiazepine, which are drugs that act on the central nervous system to produce a calming effect. Benzodiazepines work by binding to receptors in the brain that are responsible for controlling anxiety. When triazolam binds to these receptors, it causes a sedative effect that can help patients feel more relaxed during dental procedures.
  • Nitrous oxide gas is a colorless, non-flammable gas that produces mild sedative effects. During treatment, a small mask is placed over the patient’s nose, and they breathe in nitrous oxide mixed with oxygen. With this method, dentists can control the level of sedation throughout the procedure. 
  • IV Sedation provides deep sedation and is commonly used for more complex, invasive procedures. It is administered through a small tube inserted into the forearm. This also means that the dentist or oral surgeon can easily adjust the amount of sedative given to each individual patient, which reduces the risk of complications and adverse reactions. This method is often used for pediatric patients who need extensive dental work.

Sedation vs. Anesthesia

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

What Does Sedation Feel Like?

Typically, sedation will make a patient feel calm and relaxed, but they may still be able to respond to questions asked by the dentist or oral surgeon. Some patients fall into a light sleep and may not even remember the procedure.

Benefits of IV Sedation

Intravenous sedation is the most common type of sedation used in dentistry because it provides a number of advantages and benefits for both patients and dental professionals.

Some of the benefits of IV sedation include the following:

  • It’s effective. IV sedation is one of the most effective types of sedation methods available. It allows dental professionals to precisely control the amount of sedation a patient receives.
  • It’s safe. IV sedation is a very safe sedation method. When administered by a trained and licensed professional, IV sedation carries a very low risk of complications.
  • It’s fast-acting. One of the biggest benefits of IV sedation is that it works quickly. The sedative effects of IV sedation can be felt within minutes after the medication is administered.
  • Reduces gag reflex. This can be beneficial for patients with a strong gag reflex or undergoing procedures that trigger their gag reflex.

Recover faster. Patients who receive sedation dentistry recover more quickly than those who undergo anesthesia.

General Anesthesia

General anesthesia is a type of sedation that renders patients unconscious and unable to feel pain during surgical procedures. This sedation method is administered through an IV, inhalation, or a combination of both. General anesthesia also has a greater risk factor because it depresses both the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. General anesthesia is typically used for more complex or lengthy procedures.

Risks of General Anesthesia

As with any sedation method, general anesthesia does come with certain risks. Patients with diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, who smoke or have existing heart or respiratory problems may be at an increased risk for complications. Complications from anesthesia can be more serious in elderly patients and patients with heart or lung problems.

Some of the additional risks are:

  • Allergic reaction to sedatives or anesthetics
  • Breathing problems or heart problems during sedation
  • Nausea or vomiting

Pediatric Sedation Dentistry

Many children and teens feel anxious or scared about visiting the dentist. Pediatric sedation dentistry is a great option for kids who need dental work but are too afraid to go through with it. Different types of sedation can be used on children, depending on their age, weight, health history, and procedure.

Pediatric sedation dentistry can help kids who:

  • Have a low threshold for pain
  • Have 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.” This is the most common type of mild sedation used on children. It’s safe and effective and wears off quickly so the child can go home after the procedure.
  2. Oral sedation. A pill is taken before the appointment to help the child relax. 
  3. IV sedation. Medication is administered through a small IV in the child’s arm. This method of sedation is usually only used for more complex procedures. 
  4. General anesthesia. This type of sedation renders the child unconscious during the procedure. Typically only used for very young children or children with special needs.

Risks of Pediatric Sedation Dentistry

As with any type of sedation, there are some risks associated with pediatric sedation dentistry. The most common side effect is nausea, which can be caused by the sedative. Some other potential side effects include:

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

Experience The Difference

At AZ Max, we offer only the best sedation dentistry and quality care for our patients. Whether you need sedation for a simple cleaning or oral surgery, we can offer you a sedation method that is right for you. Our team of highly trained and licensed professionals have years of experience in sedation dentistry and will work with you to ensure that you receive the best possible care. Visit us today to learn more about sedation dentistry and how it can help you maintain a healthy smile. Call or Text (480) 830-5866 or complete the online booking form

If you’re searching for a sedation dentist near me, visit us at any one of our 5 locations to see why we are the best sedation dentists in Arizona.