What Does "Sleep Dentistry" Feel Like?

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  • user.pngDr. Todd Bertman
  • calendar-silhouette.png17 Feb

If you’re nervous about going to the dentist, then you should look into sedation. With dental sedation, you can get over any fear you have about the dentist and finally relax during your next procedure. To help put you more at ease, here’s what “sleep dentistry” feels like to better prepare you for your next dentist appointment. 

What Is “Sleep Dentistry?”

Conscious sedation (also known as sleep dentistry) is a procedure where your dentist uses a sedative or a combination of sedatives to help relax you for your dental appointment. Your local dentist will use gas, oral, or IV sedatives that reduce anxiety and pain sensitivity. The result is a pleasant dental visit despite any previous fear or anxiety around the procedure. 

3 Different Types of Conscious Sedation

  • Minimal (Anxiolysis) Sedation: You’re conscious and able to respond to your dentist, but you also feel calm. 
  • Moderate Sedation: You’re responsive but feel sleepy and may fade in and out of consciousness. 
  • Deep Sedation: You’re asleep or mostly asleep. You can be woken, but it takes effort.

Note: Anesthesia (unconscious sedation) differs from conscious sedation. It requires a complex use of medications supervised by licensed anesthetists. The effects and risks are greater than conscious sedation. 

What Does Sleep Dentistry (Sedation) Feel Like?

sedation dentistry is relaxing

The goal of dental sedation is to put you at ease. So, patients undergoing dental sedation often feel calm, relaxed, and somewhat groggy. The stress and anxiety of the dental procedure fade away. Of course, the extent of this feeling varies greatly depending on the type of sedation, how much is needed, and even the patient themselves.

Patients communicate a range of feelings experienced during “sleep dentistry” depending on the type of sedative used during their procedure. Here’s an overview of each to help you get an idea of what to expect from each form of dental sedation:

Nitrous Oxide Sedation

The gas can be scented, so you may smell grapes or other types of fruit. You’ll feel relaxed, light, and maybe a bit tingly in your arms and legs. Some patients also experience a “euphoric feeling” and get giggly. It slows your reaction time and reduces your pain sensitivity as well.

Oral Sedation Dentistry

You can expect a deeper sense of relaxation and relief from oral sedation. You’ll most likely feel drowsy and may have difficulty speaking. Sedation dulls reflexes and coordination as well. Some patients experience feeling heavy. And a fuzzy memory or memory loss from the procedure is common. Patients also report that time passes faster under oral sedation. 

IV Sedation

IV sedation provides a deeper sense of sedation than oral or gas sedation. Patients can experience a very deep state of relaxation as well as difficulty staying awake. You’re still conscious (unlike general anesthesia). In short, the safe feelings found in oral sedation are common in IV sedation, but more amplified. 

How Fast Does It Take for Dental Sedatives to Work?

Your body will metabolize various sedatives at different rates. Oral sedatives take between 30 and 60 minutes before you start to feel the effects. Nitrous oxide works within 3 minutes. IV sedation starts to work within a few minutes as well. 

Sedation and Pain Prevention 

Many people wonder if you can feel pain under oral or IV sedation. Unlike anesthesia where you’re unconscious and unable to feel pain, conscious sedation’s main focus is to calm you. So, even though nitrous oxide has some pain reduction benefits, your dentist will still use a local anesthetic to eliminate pain during your procedure.

If you’re wondering whether or not IV sedation hurts, you can rest easy. The only discomfort comes from placing the IV. And if you’re afraid of needles or extremely sensitive to pain, you can speak with your dentist about ways to make IV sedation completely painless. 

Sleep Dentistry in Manhattan

Going to the dentist shouldn’t be scary. But if have anxiety around dental visits and you live near Greenwich Village, then you should check out Advanced Dental Arts. We’re a top-rated, Manhattan-based dental practice located near NYU. Our select team of board-certified dental specialists has experience using dental sedation to help put patients’ minds at ease.

Whether you’re looking for an NYC dental practice near you that takes Cigna, Aetna, Delta and many other insurance providers, then you need to book your next dental appointment with ADA today!

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