The Types and Strengths of Dental Sedation



For those who have no trouble going to the dentist, dental sedation might seem silly and unnecessary. For others, who are affected by dental anxiety or low pain tolerance, it might be their only shot at getting the dental care they need. For this reason, St. Louis sedation dentistry is an industry on the rise. Despite its growth in popularity, there is still a lot of misinformation about it. Many people think that it involves going “to sleep”entirely for your procedure, but this is likely not the case. Below, we explain the two types of sedation and the differences between low, medium, and high doses.


Oral Vs. IV


There are typically two ways patients are sedated for their dental appointments and procedures. The first is a bit “old school,” and is becoming increasingly less frequent. This method is intravenous (IV). IV sedation is given by injecting a sedative into the arm of the patient. Though it is perfectly safe and effective, the way it is administered is not preferred by many patients. If a patient has dental anxiety, there is a high chance that they are uncomfortable with needles, too. The oral method is when a patient either inhales a nitrous oxide (laughing gas) or takes an anti-anxiety pill to achieve sedation. This strategy is also very safe, and given that it does not induce anxiety the way IV does, it is more commonly used.


Low Dose


For simple appointments or light cases of anxiety, a low dose is used. This will calm you down, sedate you slightly, and increase your pain tolerance. When you take a low dose, you will still be conscious and in charge of your behavior. We have all seen those videos of people coming back from being “asleep” and saying crazy things. This level of dosage will not do that. Low doses are generally given through a pill or a small amount of nitrous oxide.


Medium Dose


On this level of dosage, you will still be conscious, but your thinking will be affected, your words will be slurred, and you will likely not remember the appointment. Generally, a pill cannot take a patient to this level of sedation, so nitrous oxide or IV is used.


High Dose


High-level doses will either put you at the edge of consciousness or completely put you to sleep. You will have no recollection of the appointment and will gradually come back to full awareness as the medication wears off. Just like the medium dose, high levels of sedation use nitrous oxide or IV. This dosage level will generally be used for extreme cases of anxiety and appointments where the dentist is conducting an invasive procedure.

If you or somebody you know suffers from dental anxiety or any other condition that keeps you away from the dentist, sedation is a great avenue to explore. You can get the dental care you need without having to feel the negative emotions that come with a trip to the dentist. If you think a St. Louis sedation dentist is right for you, give us a call at (314) 862-7844 and set up an appointment!

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