How Effective Is Conscious Sedation in Dentistry?

Are you afraid of sitting on the dentist chair? Unfortunately, many people are, but it is no excuse to not to undergo dental treatment. The sedation industry is a branch of dentistry, which uses safe conscious sedation drugs to help you relax, so you don’t feel the anxiety and pain often experienced during a general dental examination.

But how effective is it? Is it safe? Is conscious sedation worth it? Dentists are also debating on it, and this blog talks about the drugs which are used, their effectiveness, and how they help you.

What is Conscious Sedation?

Conscious sedation in dentistry refers to the use of sedatives to help patients relax and calm down during dental procedures. If you are wondering whether you will fall asleep, the answer is no. Instead, you are completely awake and responsive while your central nervous system is depressed, not allowing you to feel any anxiety. An active dialogue is maintained between the patient and the dentist to ensure the patient’s well-being and comfort.

Conscious Sedation Drugs

Some people faint thinking about lying on the dentist’s chair; others experience pre-appointment insomnia, while some experience extreme anxiety. The level of anxiety, the procedure required, and your health condition all play an important role in determining the conscious sedation drugs to be used.

The most common sedation dentistry methods which are used are discussed below:

Nitrous Oxide

You are aware of the name, as it is also known as laughing gas. When administered in low amounts, the gas calms your nerves, and you feel at ease. The anxiety is gone, and you can undergo the procedure. It is administered through a mask or nosepiece, and within a few minutes, you begin to relax.

The dosage is monitored throughout the procedure, and after the treatment, pure oxygen is used to flush nitrous oxide out of your system. It is completely safe, and there are no lingering effects, such as dizziness or drowsiness. So, you are fine and drive home without any problems.

Conscious Sedation Drugs

If Nitrous Oxide doesn’t work for you, then there is conscious sedation. Dentists give you a pill that you need to take one hour before the treatment starts. It is only given under dental supervision, once you arrive at the dentistry, you are administered the pill. In pediatric dentistry, oral sedation is offered in liquid form.

Conscious sedation drugs include valium, diazepam, zaleplon, lorazepam, etc. It differs from dentist to dentist as to which oral conscious sedation drug they use.

CSD is quite effective, and within minutes, you start feeling groggy. But its effects are not potent, and you can talk while under the influence. If you choose OCS over nitrous oxide, you need a family member to accompany you to the dentist for the procedure and take you home afterward.

Intravenous Sedation

This option is ideal for patients who suffer from severe dental anxiety. However, for lengthy procedures, OCS and nitrous oxide cannot be trusted.

IV sedation, as the name suggests, is administered through an IV line. It works very quickly as the drug enters your bloodstream and starts working. Only an anesthesiologist can offer anesthesia for dental procedures, so you need not worry as they are experienced and keep monitoring your blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen levels, and as and when required, start reversal medication.

You will have no memory of the treatment, and it might have some after-effects, so it is better to keep a family member close by to take you home.

Use of General Anesthesia in Dentistry

General anesthesia is a branch of sedation where you are given a strong dosage, so you are completely unconscious during the procedure. It is administered to kids, older people, and people with extreme dental anxiety.

Again, it can only be administered by an experienced anesthesiologist.

Is Conscious Dentistry Safe?

Conscious sedation dentistry was started because some dental patients were aloof from the treatment due to severe anxiety and fear of pain. But missing dental appointments only results in severe dental issues, requiring urgent dental procedures.

Thus, it was required to administer sedation so that patients could undergo dental treatments without any fear.

Until now, oral conscious sedation has proved to be effective. It has allowed numerous patients to get rid of their anxiety and fear. Yes, there are a few side effects of sedation, such as:

  • Drowsiness
  • Sluggishness
  • Headache
  • Slow reflexes
  • Feeling nauseous and sick
  • Temporary loss of memory, etc.

But these are all temporary, and the recovery is quick.


If you are afraid of dental appointments and your dentist suggests oral conscious sedation, do not hesitate. Discuss the procedure, the duration of treatment, your health conditions, the conscious sedation drugs they administer, and their probable side effects. Once you are satisfied, go through it.

You can trust it. It is safe, debatable, but safe.

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