There are many levels of sedation available for dental patients. Most offices are equipped with nitrous oxide, laughing gas, which is one of the oldest and safest sedating medications in practice.
Discovered in 1772, nitrous oxide was first used for dentistry in 1845. Effects include a reduction in pain and awareness combined with a relaxation that oftentimes makes patients giddy. Hence the name, “laughing gas.”
All dentists can perform sedation with nitrous oxide or the use of mild anxiolytic medications like valium. Some dentists receive extra training and credentials to provide oral anesthesia. This can mean they prescribe heavier medications to take away anxiety and reduce awareness of the dental work being performed. Typical medication for this purpose includes Triazolam which makes a person very drowsy and less aware of their surroundings, something that many people appreciate during a dental procedure.
Some dentists take it a step further, like Dr. Garrett Orr, and complete a Comprehensive Conscious sedation training and credentialing program. This training qualifies a dentist to use more potent IV medications, which render a patient almost completely unaware of any treatment being performed, akin to general anesthesia used during hospital-based surgeries or oral surgeons.
The most common medication used for IV sedation is Midazolam. Using IV sedation, patients can have wisdom teeth removed or implants placed in complete comfort. For those with a significant fear of the dentist, this level of sedation can be used for even basic cleanings and fillings so that fear doesn’t have to be a barrier to a healthy smile.