What Does Dental Sedation Feel Like?

What Does Dental Sedation Feel Like?

If you’re dreading an upcoming dentist appointment or get nervous whenever you have to go, dental sedation may be the perfect option for you. But if you’ve never experienced it, you might be wondering what it feels like.

Depending on the dental sedation option you choose, you may feel mildly relaxed or even fall asleep during your procedure. Here’s what you need to know.

Laughing Gas

Laughing GasNitrous oxide aka laughing gas is the least invasive, most common type of dental sedation. The vast majority of patients can use it safely and with no side effects. Laughing gas is administered through a “mask” that covers your nose. To take it, you simply breathe through your nose normally.

  • It’s often scented so you may smell a fruity flavor. Some dentists give you a choice like grape or cherry.
  • In a few minutes, you’ll be given to feel relaxed. Many people get silly and giggly. Nitrous oxide creates a sense of euphoria which is why it’s known as laughing gas.

Once you stop inhaling the gas, it immediately begins to wear off. The vast majority of patients feel no side effects and can go about their normal day by the time the appointment is over.

Oral Sedation

Oral SedationSometimes calls “conscious sedation,” oral sedation is given in pill form. Typically, you’re given a prescription for two doses. One to take the night before your procedure, and the other to take an hour or more before. These are anti-anxiety medications that help you relax during your dental procedure.

  • Oral sedation makes many patients feel drowsy but relaxed.
  • You’ll still be awake and conscious, able to answer questions or respond to requests.
  • Some patients become very groggy and fall asleep but can be easily woken up if needed.
  • Patients have described it as being in a dream state. You’re awake but it might not feel quite real. This may result in you forgetting what happened during the procedure once the medication wears off.

Oral sedation takes a few hours to wear off so you must have someone drive you to and from your appointment. They must also be able to understand and later share the dentist’s instructions with you.

IV Sedation

IV SedationIV sedation is typically offered to dental patients with severe anxiety, for the most invasive or severe dental surgeries, or for patients who can only get dental care with this method. Medication is administered through an intravenous needle in your arm and the dose is monitored throughout your procedure.

Slurred speech and loss of memory are the most common experiences people have. You will likely forget the entire procedure afterward. IV sedation typically keeps patients on the edge of consciousness and is a deeper level of sedation and relaxation than oral sedation methods. You will definitely need someone to drive you home later and stay with you.

Talking to Your Dentist About Dental Sedation

Talking to Your Dentist About Dental SedationThere are many reasons to want and use different dental sedation options. The medication is available to help you get the dental care you need and have a positive experience at the dentist. If you’d like to use dental sedation, you need to talk to your dentist.

  • Share your complete medical history including current medical diagnoses.
  • Let your dentist know the medications, vitamins, and supplements you take.
  • Your dentist will check certain vitals such as blood pressure and heart rate.

Not everyone is a good candidate for every dental sedation method. Your dentist will recommend the best dental sedation plan based on your current medical condition, medical history, and any medications you’re taking.


You don’t have to be miserable, anxious, or fearful during your next dental procedure. Dental sedation is designed to help you relax and have a better experience at the dentist’s office. When you’re looking for a dentist in Phoenix or Mesa, ask about their options for dental sedation. If they don’t make your comfort a priority, find a dentist who will.